A new member

A new member

Postby modorney » Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:27 pm

Hi, I am Mike, and I am new to TT .

I am getting into TT by a roundabout fashion, and here is my circuitous path:

If you have children, there are two milestones in your life. One is when the first one is a Junior in High School ("Junior" - an American term for two years before graduation) when the planning and selection of colleges goes into high gear, and you settle down on a dozen, or so, likely schools. That is a busy time, which also includes some life skills like getting a Driver License, learning ow to balance a checkbook, etc. And, this is the start of the FAFSA - an American form used to apply for financial aid. It roughly duplicates an income tax form, but far more complicated. The second milestone is when you do your last FAFSA (it is done annually). This is about a five or six year process, for each child, and since I have only one child, it is easier.

At the beginning, there is actually a lull - there is a few months between the last form and the actual start of college. During this lull, about five years ago, I started thinking about model railroading. The last time I did any serious modeling was four decades ago, at an outstanding college layout - http://railroad.union.rpi.edu/index.php ... ge_Website, as well as frequent visits to another college club - http://tmrc.mit.edu/history/

I currently live in Northern California, and, five years ago, while sitting in my "home office" I thought of model railroading again. I have a 13 foot square room to use for a layout and thought of how best to use it. I like HO (availability of stuff), and recognized I couldn't run 86 foot passenger cars, autoracks, etc. Narrow gauge came to mind, but in the US, narrow gauge is mostly logging and mining. What I really like are industries, masonry buildings, mixed freight "locals" and passenger operations - especially commuters. I thought looking at European prototypes might be a good idea. While driving home from work, I went past the Blackhawk Auto Museum (a mile from my house) and the local European Train Enthusiasts set up their modules every Christmas.

While waiting at the light, I thought, "This is the last day for the trains at Blackhawk, The museum closes in two hours, I've been driving past this exhibit every year for the past ten years, I should do it now." I went in , saw the setup, met the people and they were wonderful. European trains had all I wanted - shorter cars, diverse industries, masonry buildings and passenger trains, also with shorter cars. I joined up and had a great time with great people.

I had done one operating session a long time ago and liked it. My module club organized an operating session about four years ago, and I thought I would try it again. The organizer asked me what I knew and I told him I was a total rookie, so he asked me, "Don't you work for a real railroad?" I replied, "Yes, I drive trains for BART - the local subway." He showed me some car cards and a Marey (string) chart and asked me if I knew what they were, and I said yes, so he made me Dispatcher.

I was scrambling, and had a great time. The module is a double track circle, just like my workplace. And hardly any turnouts, just like my workplace. And, people blowing holds, missing signals, not answering the radio, forgetting what train they were - just like real life. Fortunately, at work, I tried to do two things, that only a few operators tried. One was, whenever the railroad started to get messed up (broken train, police activity), I tried to position my train in a place that was potentially good for the dispatcher. The second thing was, when another operator screwed up, I would listen to see how the dispatcher worked around the mistake, knowing that I might be asked to do something to assist. Which is likely if the mistake happened close to me.

The ETE modules are designed to be a round and round exhibit, and operations is a secondary aspect. So, operations is a goodly amount of scheduled passenger and freight (milk and mail) trains, and a small number of local switchers (car cards or switchlist). And the outside track is limited by few spurs, and a limited number of turnouts to allow crossing over from one main track to the other.

I especially enjoy the size of the European prototype, since I can find HO equipment that is a little smaller (and the reliability of Marklin is a plus). I actually joked once that I don't really model "HO" but really model "TT number 56", as the length of the equipment I model is more TT size. I particularly like the style and diversity of the industries and other buildings, and, given that we are a module club, selective compression is common, and buildings and figures located at the back side of a module are often TT (sometimes British 3mm)

But I especially like operations, too. The ETE club has evolved over the five years, where the member who organized the operating sessions has retired to the far north and has little involvement nowadays. The demographics of the San Francisco bay area have shifted, and many of the ETE operators, who lived on the peninsula south of the actual city of San Francisco, have retired and left the area. The East Bay - the part of the geography east of the Berkeley-Oakland-San Leandro sub-region has attracted a lot of good modelers, but operations tends to require a minimum set of social/organizational/behavioral skills that are mostly lacking in the East Bay. The older parts of the East Bay (along BART's yellow line) contain half a dozen great clubs, but none are designed for operating sessions. Good people, great places to model (or just hang out), but no operations. An awful lot of my model railroading is driven by the people around me, if they are enjoyable, and I am not expecting them to do something well that they naturally and demographically would do poorly, I am happy. I am fortunate that both the ETE group and my local NMRA group are full of great people.

This leads to exploration of other geographies. Two areas are strong with operations. One is Silicon Valley (with a great operating club - http://www.siliconvalleylines.com/Operations/index.html) with plenty of "semi-private" layouts around that are built for operations. If one is flexible, one can get on their lists and operate a couple times a year. Like any railroad,you start out at the bottom of the seniority list, and nothing's personal, it's just that lots of other people want to operate, too. I don't get called often, which is fine, because I am still a few years from full retirement. And by the time I retire, I will have moved up the lists enough to get frequent calls. One interesting aspect of Silicon Valley is that it is the locus of the ETE meter gauge modules. These are a free-mo-like collection of HOm modules, that really like operating sessions. HOm is 12 mm gauge (sound familiar?) and is a bit smaller than standard Marklin HO. This encourages further research, and some logistics (driving around the bay area can be a challenge, sometimes).

The other geography is the Stockton area. This is the Central Valley, and it attracts a demographic that is more of a midwest style. Lots of skilled workers, the kind that make for good modelers. Unlike the SF bay area, where railroads hide and blend in, railroads are a visible part of greater Stockton. This makes for a lot of good operating know-how. There is a Sacramento module club,which is a bit of a drive if you do it every week, but a new club of modules (standard HO) has started up in Stockton, with an operations interest.

There is another aspect of operations, different from the car cards and switch lists, called TT and TO. This stands for "Timetable and Train Orders", and it is a growing interest. A group out of Michigan has done this with modules, and has done it well: http://www.railsonwheels.com/index.shtml This is a 33 module club, that is designed for TT and TO. One of the challenges of TT and TO is that operators need a lot of "spare time" to write down the train orders. Most layouts, modular or not, are so tightly packed, that one leaves a yard, and in 15 seconds, is entering the next town, or yard. The Michican men have lots of "filler" modules that are simply straight track - yes, scenery, but no turnouts or stations. One challenge is that this layout is a 17 hour setup. Plus, it requires a hotel conference room or other space for setup. It does not lend itself to public viewing, and, since it is intended for operations, it needs access all day and night (not like the National Tain Show, where everyone is kicked out at 6 PM for overnight security).

My thoughts are to build a collection (36 to 48) of standard modules, with 12 mm track (TT or HOm) that would form the basis of a TT & TO modular layout. The modules would be all 2 by 4 foot, so that they fit in the back of a sedan. One of the challenges we faced in ETE was that the modules were 5 feet long, and not everyone has a truck or van. And the 5 foot modules are heavy. Smaller, lighter modules can be carried upstairs. TT has this 11.22 inch (285 mm) radius track which would be used for the end turn-arounds. (This is open - it may be necessary to have "extensions" and use 396 mm track). Both TT models and HOm models could be run during an operating session - since TT &TO emphasizes running, over switchlists. That doesn't mean we won't have to be "creative"! Having both means a greater critical mass of operators and equipment.

For the most part, the modules will be simple, and like the way a club owns the corners, the basic modules would be owned by the "club". Of course, individual members would be encouraged to build their own personal modules, with scenery, complex track and structures. The club modules would be honeycomb construction (like Sipping and Switching) which reduces weight, and allows stacking (the trees on one module fit into grid openings on another. Modules would stack into sets of six or eight, for ease of transport in a pickup truck. Light weight would shorten setup time, and the mild California weather would allow outdoor setup, with just a tarp for overnight protection from dew and critters.

The final aspect of this multi-module approach is the HO (16.5 mm) gauge aspect. It is desired that these modules work with both ETE (Marklin) and US prototype HO - both dual track with a spacing of 2 to 2 1/4 inches. This would be accomplished with a track insert that would run the four-foot length of the module, and flip over, depending on whether you wanted TT or HO track on top. Think of a 1x6 board, that could face one way for TT and the other way for HO. Now think of the 1x6 with the edges beveled, so the cross section now looks like a hexagon. And, instead of a heavy 1x6, fabricate the track cassette like a model airplane wing, with a hard skin, along with a rib and strut construction to reduce weight. Loosen the six knobs, slide out the track (make sure your wires are tucked out of the way, and flip it over. Tighten the six knobs, put on your legs, grab a couple c-clamps and you are in business. A bit of a "nerd" solution, but my desire is that these modules be used every month, or so, not once or twice a year. And making two trips with a pickup truck is better than owning and storing a trailer. After looking at all the Michigan Men went through, I thought I'd fine tune this concept.

This makes my primary interest in TT revolve around operations. If you think of O operating sessions, most layout owners don't use their ribbon-winner cars, but have a large collection of cheap cars. Cars where the trucks and couplers are worth more than the car. I don't expect to go to the swap meet and get boxes of cars for cheap, like HO, but I am interested in inexpensive, basic cars, even if I have to do a little work. Price is a factor, mainly because I would need lots of cars. Which also means I would invest up front in tooling to reduce the overall cost.

Locomotives should run well, and perhaps rebuilding a Kato chassis (N scale) with a resin body is a way to go? DCC a must, sound is nice; a druther, not a given.

This is my basic pathway, and I am open to variations. A lot of disparate paradigms and pieces, that actually fit together, largely due to the preferences and personalities of the modelers around me. British TT (3 mm) holds a lot of interest, especially due to the huge interest in building these well-engineered (and good running) steam locomotive chassis.

Mike O'Dorney
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Re: A new member

Postby Rob M » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:28 pm

Welcome to the forum & TT!
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Re: A new member

Postby AstroGoat760 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:19 pm

Welcome aboard, and be sure to have some fun here!
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Re: A new member

Postby ConducTTor » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:53 pm

Hey Mike welcome aboard! You have a lot going on. Is there a specific need you want to start with? That would help us to help you navigate TT.
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Re: A new member

Postby modorney » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:15 am

Thanks for the warm welcome! Here's a few basic questions:
1. What couplers do you use?
2. What freight trucks are good?
3. What's good in DCC? Functionality, as well as fitting into a slightly smaller loco?
(I can see choices between a comfortable install using N-scale decoders, or a tight squeeze with some HO decoders).
4. Sound? Is it a viable option?
5. Buildings. Clever models makes card stock stuff that scales to TT. What else is out there?

Some general thoughts?
1. Railroad Model Craftsman has reserved the inside front cover for S-scale. And each vendor has a small ad (6 to 9 ads per issue). Are there any thoughts of asking them for the inside back cover? or some other page?
2. Joe Fugate is an open-minded publisher. I would guess he might like some TT content for his magazine. Do you think he would like a TT column, and we could round-robin the writing of it? I'm a halfway passable writer, but certainly in need of an editor. But you all know TT much better than me.
3. Where do you get stuff - cars, locos, track. Are there a few popular vendors, both stateside and European?
4. Have any of you thought of creating a small company (like Craig Bisgeier or Bernie Kempinski) ? I would toss in a few bucks just to kickstart it.
5. Where does everybody live? Any thoughts about Portland (NMRA)? Indy in 2016, Orlando in 2017 or Kansas City in 2018? Salt Lake City 2019? (Should be east coast for 2020).
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Re: A new member

Postby j p » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:33 am

Welcome to TT!

1. Kadee H0n3 713/714 (slightly oversized for TT, but more reliable) or
MTL N-scale couplers 1015, 1016, 1025, etc. (more correct for TT, oversized for N, require more precision)
Both coupler types should be mounted according to the NMRA standard for TT scale. They are compatible, e.g. you can have Kadee 713 on one car and MTL 1015 on another car.
European TT use Tillig/Kuehn couplers, some clubs use MTL couplers even on European equipment.
2. For which period?
Good trucks:
- ASF ride control trucks from Gold Coast
- Archbar trucks from Peresvet (I have just received 20 of those, they work perfectly after some minor adjustment of the bearings.
- ASF roller bearing trucks 70tons and 100 tons from Art&Detail (they are very good, but expensive)
- maybe soon Barber S2 trucks from MTB/Zeuke-tt. I have not seen the final version yet.
3. You can use TT scale or N scale decoders
4. Yes
5. Ice storage and filling facility for reefers from Art&Detail, roundhouse from Sazmodel, water tank from KB model, hundreds of European buildings, dozens of old US kits...

General thoughts:
3. Try http://sazmodel.com, http://zeuke-tt.com, and ebay for a start.
For European TT, try http://www.mbs-sebnitz.de/spur_tt
4. Mark (sazmodel) and Rob (zeuke-tt) tried.
5. All around the world. For NMRA conventions check events-f63.html
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Re: A new member

Postby Arseny » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:48 am

Welcome to the forum Mike!

1. What couplers do you use?

Kadee 713/714 (supposed for HOn3) or Micro-Trains MTL 1025 or 1015/1016 (supposed for N scale)
They are compatible, although you may get some problems with automatic uncoupling if you use Kadee and MTL in one train.

For European stuff you can use a lot of couplers from Tillig (different types, I prefer old BTTB-style), Kuehn or Roco. Tillig and Kuehn ones are compatible.

2. What freight trucks are good?

Gold Coast. Now they are produced by German Lok-n-Roll and are available from Canadian Sazmodel:

Also you can use Russian Peresvet trucks - they are archbar type (in Russia they are known as "Diamond" type)
Peresvet is Russian company.

3. What's good in DCC? Functionality, as well as fitting into a slightly smaller loco?
(I can see choices between a comfortable install using N-scale decoders, or a tight squeeze with some HO decoders).

Personally I do not use DCC, because I do not know if is it possible to install DCC into my old HP steam locomotives - they used locomotive body as power wire.
But I am sure you can use N-scale decoders. Also there are some German and Russian decoders for TT.

4. Sound? Is it a viable option?

Why not, if you have some space in your locomotive and sound decoder.
As for me, I've purchased MRC AA555 Symphony 77 Sound System for "offline" sound, outside the train. :smile:

5. Buildings. Clever models makes card stock stuff that scales to TT. What else is out there?

Buildings! I like buildings! :smile:

Some American buildings are available from Sazmodel
http://sazmodel.myshopify.com/collectio ... cture-kits
and BTS

Ideenladen.de offers nice wooden kits of western-style American buildings from XIX century.
For example: http://ideenladen.de/index.php?id=47

Also you can use some European buidings. For example, I used Busch freight shed:
Also you can use some industrial buildings from Auhagen - such as "Gravel pit", "Old gas plant", "Oilseed Mill", "Locomotive shed" and maybe "Fire depot". We've discussed it here:
Some Vollmer buildings can work too:

Some Czech railroad buildings that are looking-like American:
http://www.modelkrajiny.cz/produkty/zel ... -brno.aspx
http://www.modelkrajiny.cz/produkty/zel ... acice.aspx
http://www.modelkrajiny.cz/produkty/zel ... -telc.aspx

We discussed it here:

Also you can use paper buildings. I have some old patterns from John Harmon (http://www.ttscale.com/members/jeh/JEHarmonTT.html ) or you can try to find some H0-scale patterns and rescale them
For example:

Also you can use some N- or HO-scale buildings with some kitbashing.
Look at the doors! If the door is big in comparison with N-scale man, maybe you can use this building in TT!
For example look here:


The building is a little bit kitbashed "Sonny's Super Service - N Scale Kit" from Woodland Scenics

3. Where do you get stuff - cars, locos, track. Are there a few popular vendors, both stateside and European?

The best way to get American loco is to buy MTB's SW1200 or SW9 from SazModel (http://sazmodel.myshopify.com/) or Zeuke-TT in Europe: http://www.zeuke-tt.com/en/us-tt-models/

Also German company Lok-n-Roll offers EMD F-3 and GP-9 in TT: http://lok-n-roll.de/
(In fact they are "Old Rugged Trains" made by Lionel in late 1990s - originally non-motorized models in 1:120, motorized with some power unit)

Also GP-38 is (or soon will be) available from Lok-n-Roll as a kit, or from Sazmodel: sazmodel-what-s-new-t1974-250.html#p31841

Russian company Norkin-Model produced etched brass kit for SD-45, you can use Tillig's NOHAB locomotive to motorize it; but I do not know exactly if this kit is still available.

Also you can try to find some old TT-scale stuff on Ebay - some of them are very nice, but some are in very poor condition.
I have 3 old HP Products' steam locomotive and one more (0-8-0) as unassembled kit.
Also you can find ALCO FA diesel (from Kemtron or PVM), 0-6-0 steam locomotive from Scale Rail, etc. etc., but they are quite rare.

As concerns cars - try Sazmodel or Zeuke-TT or Lok-n-Roll for steel and wooden boxcars and 52' flatcar.
Sometime ago Rob M produced steel gondola and High Cube boxcar, but I am not sure if they are still available. Ukrainian RailTT company produced some TT-scale cars, but Nikolay told me that he does not want to produce more railroad cars, only road vehicles. But maybe he can produce one or two. His stock car and flatcar are very nice. Wooden boxcar is nice, but a little bit oversized. Also reefer and caboose were available. His website (in Russian): http://railtt.ucoz.ua/
RailTT stuff is available from me. :wink:
Also German fellows offer some American TT stuff, but it is quite expensive:

As concerns tracks - you can use Code 83 tracks from Tillig (the widest assortment), Code 70 tracks from Krueger-TT and Kuehn, and Code 55 tracks from Filigran-TT.
There is also Russian company TT-model that offer the Krueger tracks, and American DnS-TT (http://www.ttscale.com/members/dns/Dnshome.htm ) - but I do not know if DnS still works.
Also Sazmodel offers wooden ties.

5. Where does everybody live? Any thoughts about Portland (NMRA)? Indy in 2016, Orlando in 2017 or Kansas City in 2018? Salt Lake City 2019? (Should be east coast for 2020).

As for me, I live in Russia, a bit far away from Portland or Kanas City. :lol:
To say the truth I would be glad to move to Canada or USA, but I am afraid it is almost impossible for me today.
Maybe some day I'll visit some show as tourist.
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Re: A new member

Postby modorney » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:13 am

Thanks, J P, and Arseny!

Mark and Rob seem to have a couple of good companies.

I see the challenge with 2x4 modules. With everyone spread out, an airline-friendly size is a better choice.
2x4 modules only work for driving - 1 or 2 will fit in a sedan, 4 or 5 in an SUV or minivan, a dozen and a half in a pickup.
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Re: A new member

Postby Richard-B » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:13 pm

modorney wrote:2x4 modules only work for driving
But Mike...
We're both from California... and drive EVERYWHERE!

My Wife's family, from Budapest says:
"If they could... Americans would drive to the Bathroom!"
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Somewhere between Shenzhen and Budapest...
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Re: A new member

Postby modorney » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:26 pm

> We're both from California... and drive EVERYWHERE!

That is so true! I have a very smart son, and he would be involved in activities all over the Bay Area. So, I am used to driving everywhere (and wearing out a car fast). Traffic is horrendous here, so I knew, while I couldn't do anything about the miles, I could avoid the time-eating traffic jams. So i learned to carry battery tools, etc., and did lots of modeling while waiting for traffic to go away.
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