Going With the Standard Gauge

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Drew1125, May 8, 2001.

  1. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hello? Anybody home?
    Thought I'd blow some of the cobwebs off the HO forum. [​IMG]
    Well, I've had some time to sit & re-evaluate my situation, & I've decided to run up the white flag on the narrow gauge, & just go with the standard. I'm still going with an Appalachian short line theme, set in about 1930. The only thing I'm changing is the width of the track.
    I just don't have the time, money, patience, or whatever other saintly virtues it takes to achieve such an undertaking. I salute all of you who have done it!
    The availability of standard gauge HO locomotives & rolling stock is just too seductive for me to resist any longer.
  2. LC

    LC Member

    Charlie, your not alone in your thinking, the only way to go anywhere from H.O. is
    up in size, and that's too expensive just thinking about it.
  3. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hey Charlie, my logging layout is HO standard gauge, why not do a logging layout? we could have some fun by interchanging loco's on the net. (Just a thought) Anyway, part of my Badger Creek is down ready for the new area.

  4. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hey Shamus & LC!
    The scenerio is this:
    My RR, the Salt Lick & Devil's Mountain Ry. started out in the late 1800's as strictly a logging line. But as the timber played out after the turn of the century, the directors of the SL&DM realized that they were the only conection to the outside world for the remote towns along the line. (especially in winter, when the dirt roads became impassable) They jumped at the opportunity to provide passenger & freight service, in the hopes that the revenues would make up for the decline in the logging business. Their speculations payed off, & now, in 1931, with the Depresion sweeping the nation, the SL&DM is managing to cling to survival. They've managed to cut costs by providing their own timbers for ties, & owning their own nearby coal mine & lineside tipple for fuel. the SL&DM has become a beloved part of the community, bringing in much needed goods & supplies, mail, & providing mixed train passenger service, picking up, & dropping off passengers anywhere they like along the line.
    Yes Shamus, logs are still hauled (though nothing like the "old days") to the mill at Salt Lick, where the cut lumber is carried to distant points by the C&O.
    Well, this is what I've been dreaming up lately, & in the meantime, my daughter, who is in the process of moving from one place to another, decided that that room, where this dream of mine was going to take shape, looked, to her, like a perfectly good storage locker. [​IMG]
    I guarantee this is only a temporary setback. (they don't call it the SALVATION army for nothin') [​IMG]
  5. George

    George Member

    Welcome home, Charlie!

    I was wondering when this part of the library was going to be torn down. [​IMG]

    If it prevents another storage room from being born, power to us!

  6. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Thanks George!
    It just boiled down to whether I was more commited to a certain gauge of track, or to some good quality modeling of the pre-diesel era. (both firsts for me)
  7. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    I really don't think you need any excuse to select standard gauge over narrow --- in any period modeled. In every era (at least post 1860) and in every region (of North America) there were more standard than narrow gauge railroads. I model western US 1870's-1880's standard gauge, and have never felt any need to hang my head. And for one thing, it keeps me from ever getting into "too cute / too run down," which disease seems to heavily inflict many of the modelers of 3-foot gauge..... My railroad is the Jefferson and Overland (Jefferson being the U S state that almost was -- but became Northern California and Southern Oregon instead) a line that takes pride in its gleaming 4-4-0's, fancy varnish, and "fast" freight, and is trying to become yet another major transcontinental road competing with the likes of the Central Pacific and U.P. But since the State of Jefferson is where all the redwoods are, the road will be quite heavily involved in the lumber industry also, as well as ore and coal (yes, there were western coal mines.....)
  8. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Thanks for your vote Bill!
    Your right of course, in evry region of the U.S., especially in the east, (the region I'm modeling) the majority of the RR's had converted to standard gauge by the turn of the 20th century.
    It's just that I got a lot of inspiration from a couple of the holdouts. But I've never been that much of a purist when it comes to modeling. I come more from the "good enough" school. And I think I can still capture that time & place, even with the track being 20" wider, & me needing a lot less asprin. [​IMG]
    I'm not sure what you mean by "too cute", (unless you mean that porcelain Christmas village thing) but as far as "too rundown", you really can't model Appalachia from any era, without including some degree of decrepidness. I guess you can go overboard with anything, but I've always believed that, done right, an old & weathered appearance is very effective, & very reallistic.

    [This message has been edited by Charlie (edited 06-20-2001).]
  9. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    I guess what I mean by "too cute and too decrepid" is that so many narrow guage modelers model the final days of the Colorado narrow guage lines, and seem hung up on hard-times railroading. Fat, rusty little Mudhens pulling sway-backed cars, every structure on the layout has holes in the roof and boards missing from the siding. In the heyday of the narrow guages (which I would model if I were a 3ft-gauger) the typical loco was a 4-4-0, the typical rolling stock was small but well-maintained, the towns were new and thriving and full of people sure their spot would become an important city. I find those times far more appealing than the decay and failure so often modeled.
  10. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I think I know what you're talking about Bill, & I wholeheartedly agree.
    Weather & age are very subtle effects, & (I believe) take some practice to model realisticly.
    An overly weathered scene is no more reallistic than a unpainted, shiney, plastic one. You don't know how many times I've seen Class 1 RR locomotives modeled as rust buckets. If this had occurred on the prototype, some 1:1 scale shop foremen would have been out of a job!
    I guess the bottom line is, you need to portray a reallistic version of time & place. If you're modeling a western boom town from the late 19th century, you'll want everything to be bright & shiney, with lots of colors, reflecting the prosperity of the times. On the other hand, if you're modeling an eastern city in the 1930's, the picture is going to be quite different.
    So my advice is do your homework, & remember - weathering is like drinking, moderation is the key. [​IMG]
  11. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    The most glaring exception on upkeep on prototype railroads has to have been the Southern Pacific in the final decades before it was merged into non-existance. The SP diesels were so incredibly filthy, run down, and rusted, they looked like something a lunatic modeler might have weathered.
  12. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Your right Bill. They did get a little gamey in the final years. But you never saw a dirty "Daylight"! [​IMG]
  13. nopoop

    nopoop New Member

    Yeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaa baby [​IMG]

    I think the main reason that narrow gauge is modeled "used up" is that the last of the narrow gauge in the fifties WAS used up. The mines were shutting down, the economy sucked and the equipment was fifty years old.

    What was left for the modelers that grew up at that time is what is generally modeled. And it's been sort of handed down..

    It just kind of grabs you Bill. You see all these wonderful layouts in the HO magazines, great stuff.... Big trains, big cities, clean streets, gas stations and drug stores...

    Then you happen upon a Narrow Gauge layout by someone like Malcom Furlow.. [​IMG]

    I call it "rode hard and put away wet"

    I looks "used"

    By the same token I want to know why all the litter and discarded equipment isn't cleaned up on the Franklin & South Manchester ??

    Rusty chainlink, dented garbage cans that don't hold all the wealth.. Peeled paint from faded long since forgoten products on tired brick buildings...

    That whole city is "used" [​IMG]

    Earl Smallshaws cities are all located on the south side of the tracks also. Where upkeep is an option usually last on the list of "things to do" for it's population.

    What all three have in common for me is that they ooze realisim, more so then clean and well painted. It's all a matter of ones own taste.

    It isn't "too cute" it's a perception. And everyones perception is different thank God [​IMG]

    Of course, I live in a 1 room flat above a pool hall that's open 24 hours just down the street from the longshoremens union hall and the docks....

    ..and the ladies on the streets are..well..

    ladies of the streets..

    ..and my car ???

    it ain't nothin if it ain't "real" warts and all [​IMG]

    Actually I think it's the warts that does it.


  14. nopoop

    nopoop New Member

    BTW South San Francisco's yard has a resident Santa Fe switcher that looks like it "might" run.. with ALOT of work.

    And their SP switcher ain't much better [​IMG]


  15. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    To Charlie, re the Daylights.
    Yeah. They were beautiful. One advantage of my being a geezer is that I got to ride the steam-powered Daylights --- probably three or four round trips with my parents between Glendale and San Francisco. THOSE were trains! I also rode the Shasta Daylight from Portland to (I think it was...) Oakland, behind diesels on Christmas eve day, 1953 --- on the way home from military duty in the Far East. At Oakland (or wherever it was) I caught the Owl for an overnight run down to Glendale. What luxury! The Owl's Pullman berth was my first night's sleep between sheets in almost a year.
  16. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Getting a little off-track from your original question.... But to give you a little more of "the story".... Yes, I was Air Force too. Arrived in Seattle the day before Xmas eve, took a milk train to Portland where I caught the Shasta Daylight Xmas Eve morning. After lunch in the diner I wandered back to the club car, where I fell in with some other military going home for Xmas. Even tho' it sounds too symetrical to be true, we wound up being a group of 2 Air Force, 2 Navy, 2 Marines, and 2 Army, sitting around a big booth. Spent the whole afternoon in there. There was another large booth filled with civilians, who periodically bought us a round, or had the attendant bring us a few packs of cigarettes (EVERYONE smoked then) All of us --- civilians and military --- began singing Chrismas Carols late in the afternoon, and we kept it up until we had to get off the train in Oakland.
    Sure, it took longer to get places, but it certainly was more civilized, more genteel, more whatever you want to call it.....
  17. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Bill!
    Your story reminds me of my Dad. He was in the Air Force in the 50's, & was stationed in several places while he was stateside. From Texas, to New York, to California. He always likes to joke that, back then, when the U.S.A.F. wanted to send you somewhere, they put you on a train! [​IMG]
    How lucky was that guy though? Instead of some rattle trap airplane, he got to criss cross the country on the likes of the New York Central, the Pennsy, the Santa Fe, the Frisco, & the Southern Pacific.
    Man, that was the life!
  18. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Thanks for sharing the memories, Bill.
    I guess we are a little "off track", but talkin' trains is what we're here for, right?
    BTW - I spent 23 years of my life suckin' on those $#@! cigarettes too.

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