Monday, May 4, 2020

Monday Mail Call (an early Thankful Thursday)

I don't know about you, but these days the Missus and I are getting just about everything we need through the mail. We get our groceries delivered through Peapod and just about everything else through Amazon. Consequently, the mailman is one of our few links to the outside world.

But over the last couple of days, he's become even more than a hero on the front lines of the current crisis, delivering our much-needed supplies. He’s morphed into a springtime Santa's elf with the things he's been bringing!

First of all, admittedly, he delivered the last of my "add-to-cart" evidences of weakness.

Having just a bit of, um, extra time on my hands here and there, I've been cleaning out the photos on my phone and one of the things I use the photo function for is to take screenshots of info on various items of interest. That's how I was reminded that I'd "screenshotted" a Kadee ad a few months back where they announced they'd be releasing PS-1 boxcars with the 6' door. And not only that, but it'd be available in the NYC scheme. And not only THAT, but these cars were delivered in April, 1948 and had the correct dates/data already printed on the car. Well whattayaknowaboutthat! Just a light bit of weathering for my Autumn, 1948 era layout and this car could go right into service.

So yeah, that was a must-get. Unfortunately, KD only ran one road number. And they were sold out just about every where by the time I got around to looking for one. But thanks to Google, I discovered that Harris Hobbies had one left! Well, turned out, by the time my order went through, they'd already sold it. But they promised they'd find me one - and, thankfully (and obviously, given the pic above) they did! Thanks Jack & Paula!

Then, the very next day, I got a package from my friend PeteL. He'd been going through his collection during the stay-at-home order and came across a couple of trucks that were surplus to him. He asked me if I was interested - "What kind are they?" The answer came back - "1948 Peterbilt tractor trailers."

Heh - I couldn't say "yes please!" fast enough! Vehicles for just about ANY layout are kinda tough to come by. And vehicles that are already built & ready to add to your layout (and even the right vintage) are very rare indeed. So yeah, these will be going on the layout soon - probably somewhere in the neighborhood of Wethersfield Lumber...

Now those trucks - they'd be getting thirsty at some point. So at some point, hopefully soon, I'll be needing to build a few gas stations. Well, how do you get the gas from the underground tanks to the trucks?

Well, you pump it.

In a strange case of serendipity, these pumps actually arrived the same day the trucks did! My friend Jim Lincoln (of Jim Lincoln Chev-Olds, though he's a Ford guy. . . it's a long story . . .) has been experimenting with his resin printer and came up with these awesome period-correct gas pumps! And in two different styles! Thankfully, he painted and put together one of the "kits" so I could see how to build them. I think the "glass" globe is some sort of tubing, but I'll have to ask to be sure I get the right stuff. These are gonna look great on the layout for sure! And when I get them done, I'll be sure and take a picture . . .

Or maybe a video?

Along with a lot of other folks creating videos for quarantine-weary, and content-hungry model railroaders these days, I joined in and uploaded a layout tour a few weeks back. It came out pretty good, I thought, and it at least provided some context for all the photos I've taken of the layout over the years. 

Now, I know enough about good photography (and, thus, good videography) to use a tripod when possible (check out this video of switching in East Berlin for a rock-steady example), but a walk-around tour of the layout is much more challenging. No matter how steady I thought I was holding my camera (ok, it's an iPhone 6), it still looked way more wobbly than I wanted.

The only time I'd ever heard about gimbals was in the context of one of my favorite movies. But the more I've watched other model railroad videos (not to mention, car videos - another passion), the more I'd heard about a cool tool that would make your camera movement silky smooth and steady.

So on one of my posts over at the Valley Local FB group, I'd mentioned maybe getting a gimbal for Christmas. Well, "Santa" apparently was listening . . .

One of the cool developments of the NMRAx Virtual Convention last weekend was that my mom and dad discovered the wonderful world of model railroading on Facebook - and all of the cool layouts, photos, videos, and artistry of the many talented people posting there. They'd tuned in to see my presentation (being such wonderful parents and all), but they've stayed on the NMRA FB group because of all the great content.

They figured I'd post more videos of the layout if I had the right equipment, and they just didn't want to wait until Christmas. So that probably undermines their "Santa" status. I guess they'll just have to be content with being wonderful - and very generous - parents.

Speaking of not being able to wait . . . I certainly didn't want to wait until "Thankful Thursday" to thank Pete & Jim for the very cool additions to the Valley Line, and to my mom and dad for making it possible to share it with you more often via video - and without making you seasick in the process.

If any of you have used a gimbal to video a model railroad, I hope you'll let me know. I'm learning what I can, but "Pan Following," "Pan & Tilt Following," "All Locked," and "All Following & Inception" have me a wee bit confused. Not sure yet which mode is best for shooting the layout. . . 

But I sure expect to have some fun experimenting with it! So stay tuned for more videos . . . (and more layout progress so I have something different to shoot!)


  1. Hi Chris, knowing you, I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that the postman is "evil" - for me, he is a front-line soldier in this crisis like nurses and grocery clerks. Best regards, George

    1. Of course I didn't :^) - just a figure of speech, reflecting how much different the world is these days with just about EVERYthing having to be delivered. But in order to avoid any possible confusion, I've rewritten it ;^)