Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cahaba Southern 1st Edition (1997-1999)

The 1st edition of the Cahaba Southern was in a 22'x10' room in my basement.  The benchwork  was 1x4 grid construction with risers and cookiecutter roadbed.   The track was Peco Code 55, weathered with regular Rustoleum primer in Rust, Black, and Gray.  A Super Chief Digitrax DCC control system was installed.  It featured dual mainlines, a decent size yard, and a large roundhouse was planned, fed by a Fleischmann electric turntable.  Some basic scenery, i.e. hills, was completed and the backdrop was painted with curved corners.

Here is the trackplan:

The Cahaba Southern 1st edition had some nice long mainline runs, however it had some things I didn't like.  First it was too big!  This realization wasn't reached until I was too far along, as it was too big to move forward at the pace I wanted given the amount of freetime I had.  Second it had a return run for the mainlines that was too hidden and too long.

Here are some pics, walking around the layout:

Unfortunately this is as far as the 1st Edition of the Cahaba Southern got. Our first child was born in 1998, and babies/toddlers don't mix well with model railroading, especially if you don't want things destroyed.  He immediately wanted to grab everything, and I came to the realization that there was too much temptation to keep him out of arms reach.  I also became interested at that time in the restoration of pinball machines.  I couldn't afford two hobbies, especially with a growing family.  With a heavy heart I tore down the Cahaba Southern and sold off all of my model railroading equipment in order to pay for my new hobby, restoring pinball machines.

I was out of model railroading again, but hoped I could one day return to it....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Welcome to my model railroading chronicle!

After a 10 year absence from the hobby I'm returning to the hobby I just can't seem to get away from.  Model Railroading has always been a love of mine, starting with the first layout I got for Christmas in 1970 when I was 6 years old growing up as an Army brat in Germany.  It was a Fleischmann HO set mounted to a 4x6 board.  I still have the rolling stock from that set to this day.  Like any kid, a lot of different things got my interest, however I always seem to gravitate back to the trains.

Going to college marked my first hiatus from the hobby, but it was a short one.  After getting married and going to grad school I started back into model railroading again.  I dabbled in German N scale for a few years, building a few hollow core door layouts that never went very far. I then started getting into southeastern US HO trains, and with the purchase of our first house I built a 22'x16' L shaped HO layout.  It was my first serious layout, and had all the typical first layout mistakes, but I was learning.  I even joined a local club, Smokey City Rails, which had a modular HO layout.  I made a lot of great friends thru the club, however I was never really satisfied with HO.  It took up too much space to do anything that looked realistic without having a warehouse to build a layout.   It was the late 1990's, and N scale started catching my eye again...

I started noticing that the quality and realism of N scale, and in particular US prototype models, was really improving.  Atlas, Kato, and MicroTrain rolling stock was starting to rival the quality of German prototype N scale maker Fleischmann, and with one big difference:  it was less than one third of the cost!  The HO layout was torn down, I sold off all my HO equipment to fund my switch to N scale, this time in US prototype, in particular southeastern railroading around Birmingham, Alabama.  Thus in early 1998 the 1st Cahaba Southern was born...