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  Trains By Request 06:59 PM -- Fri February 29, 2008  

Someone asked yesterday for me to report on my train layout construction. Well, I hadn't actually DONE anything with it since pretty much the last report. But the request inspired me! So I got onto it and did some things, and it's sort of underway. Here's the overview currently:

I'm trying to show a huge area in a small picture, so it's hard to see what's going on. First of all, there are my two trains - lower down you see the santa claus train which is hauling Christmas trees and toys (really, I want to seriously edit that train... bleh. But I love the actual style of it, very old-fashioned locomotive). On the right side is the big cargo train, with a crane, a box car, a ... buckety car, and an actual automotive car on a car. That train is motorized. It has a hard time with slopes, however. It can only haul two cars up the slope, and it struggles to do that.

That slope is in fact the big issue. See at the top of the picture, a series of increasing trestles raising the track. You probably can't tell, but over in the top left of the picture, the track is greatly elevated (the track where the santa train is headed), held up by a random assortment of ugly legos. The flat track behind that is actually supposed to be attached to it, but without support, it falls. So building that series of trestles is my current issue. I'm making the track go up so it can go under itself, which is something I truly demand in any train set. See the pile of black legos in the middle of the picture, next to the yellow train station? Those are pretty much all the black legos I own. And they are not remotely enough to make my trestles! I did a bunch of research, played around with Lego Designer (really cool software!), and designed a super cool trestle:

Lego Designer actually creates an instruction set for it, too, which you can watch animated as it builds your model. That thing is so cool. Anyway, this was my trestle design (the tallest size, what is needed at the peak of the hill). But Lego Designer also has another handy feature, where it shows you what the price would be to buy those pieces individually from Lego Shop-At-Home... and it was $4.30. That's not a lot of money, until you think about how many trestles I need (around 40, though admittedly, they get smaller and smaller, so maybe multiply that price by around 20 "only"). That's crazy talk.

So I hit Ebay, and discovered a great place selling big lots of pieces, and have just now ordered a few hundred black pieces of various shapes, at massively cheaper prices than what Lego charges. Sadly, I couldn't get the big slope pieces I have in that design, but I got stuff that will make some good ones. I have literally thousands more Legos to use... too bad I have extremely few of any given specific shape and size! It's kind of frustrating.

In other news, I also need some more track, as you can see. Just one more box of track should do the trick - right under the caboose of the santa train is a cross track, so I just need enough to cover from the end of that switching piece to the cross. The layout is kind of a big figure-8, and the part with the cross-piece is sort of a shortcut.

And here is the one building I have made for my town. You can't really tell how dumpy it is in this picture, but I took advantage of the fact that my Legos are very old and dirty to build slum housing. After all, housing right next to train tracks is not typically upscale. In the upstairs apartment, a woman is beating her husband with a wrench (see, he's got his arms up to protect his face), and their downstairs neighbor is pounding on the ceiling with a broom, telling them to shut up. It's the kind of adorable slice of life you find at Legoland! Well, sorta. Later, I will make a bunch of police cars that have been called to the scene.

Also, speaking of slum housing, look at the stuffing coming out of that couch! That's what happens when you live with cats. That's our old couch by the way, we have taken much better care of our current one.
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