Monthly Archives: July 2008

“Backdating” DCC installs…

…—or—, how I got my head out of the clouds and back to reality.

I installed DCC chips into a lot of my motive power when I was a member of a club. When that membership had to end, I had half my fleet unable to run in my DC equipped layout. DCC is a great innovation in the hobby but the two systems really don’t work well as crossovers. Those familiar with the “Double Ot Dance” know exactly what I’m talking about. This left me pining for the day when; 1. I got a new neighbor who’d be more than happy to let some wild eyed evangelical run his train on their layout or, 2. I’d bone up for a new or used system and install it on a very small testbed loop of track, all the while trying to justify the expense.

In short, I was on a fast track to the suburb of Malcontent, a place where nothing gets done because all of its citizens put their hands to the plow and continually look back. So, for my spiritual well being, a decoder pulling festival unto the Lord was in order. Most of my decoders were Digitrax or Lenz and they both use a 9 pin socket that can easily be jumped for DC running without undoing all the hard work it takes to isolate motors in older units. This way, should the future hold a Digitrax Super Empire Builder setup sitting next to a dumpster, waiting for me to rescue it, I’ll be able to easily reinstall decoders in my locomotives.

I began by bending a length of .015″ brass rod into a 1/8″ U shape. I then soldered a length of the same brass rod into the center, making an elongated upper case “E”. Once cool, I clipped the ends clean with a pair of flush cutting nippers. Then it was a simple matter of pushing them into the sockets, connecting the black/gray/yellow and the red/orange/blue wires. The yellow is for the front headlight and the blue is its common. The red/orange, black/gray wires are the motor/track supply leads. I then wrap the whole smack in a wrap or two of electrical tape and I’m off to the test track.


The only drawback I’ve seen thus far is the LEDs I installed in some locos are not lighting properly. I figure this is a polarity issue that I can resolve later. The blessing is that my fleet of shelf queens is finally getting a workout after 2 years of idling under glass.

Miracle Strip Model Railroad club, Part II…

One of my favorite spots on the layout is a Western town made up of old school 70s and 80s Fine Scale Miniatures and other high end craftsman kits. These were built by Mrs. Pat McCue and Pete Therrein over the years and include an impressive amount of interior and exterior detail and board-by-board construction. Though Mrs. Pat and Pete are no longer with us, their work shares a place of honor where it can be best viewed by all who enter into the clubhouse.


Pete would use a seamstress’ pounce wheel to make the nail impressions. The stains and coloring he used would naturally pool into the dimples, making perfect nail heads.






Psalm 15

(1) –A Psalm of David.– LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

(2) He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

(3) He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

(4) In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

(5) He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

It Is Well with My Soul

1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

Text: Horatio G. Spafford
Music: Philip P. Bliss

——In 1871, tragedy struck Chicago as fire ravaged the city. When it was all over, 300 people were dead and 100,000 were homeless. Horatio Gates Spafford was one of those who tried to help the people of the city get back on their feet. A lawyer who had invested much of his money into the downtown Chicago real estate, he’d lost a great deal to the fire. And his one son (he had four daughters) had died about the same time. Still, for two years Spafford–who was a friend of evangelist Dwight Moody–assisted the homeless, impoverished, and grief-stricken ruined by the fire.

After about two years of such work, Spafford and his family decided to take a vacation. They were to go to England to join Moody and Ira Sankey on one of their evangelistic crusades, then travel in Europe. Horatio Spafford was delayed by some business, but sent his family on ahead. He would catch up to them on the other side of the Atlantic.

Their ship, the Ville de Havre, never made it. Off Newfoundland, it collided with an English sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and sank within 20 minutes. Though Horatio’s wife, Anna, was able to cling to a piece of floating wreckage (one of only 47 survivors among hundreds), their four daughters–Maggie, Tanetta, Annie, and Bessie–were killed. Horatio received a horrible telegram from his wife, only two words long: “saved alone.”

Spafford boarded the next available ship to be near his grieving wife, and the two finally met up with Dwight Moody. “It is well,” Spafford told him quietly. “The will of God be done.”

Though reports vary as to when he did so, Spafford was led during those days of surely overwhelming grief to pen the words to one of the most beautiful hymns we know, beloved by Christians lowly and great.

——The railroad train on which Mr. and Mrs. Bliss rode to their death left Buffalo, New York, on Friday afternoon, December 29, 1876. At eight o’clock that evening, while approaching Ashtabula station, and crossing a ravine, the bridge gave way, and the train, with its precious freight of human lives, was precipitated to the bottom. Fresh as is the memory of this horror in the minds of all, the newspaper accounts given at the time will be read now with renewed interest, and fittingly form a part of the record made in these pages…When the train fell, Mr. Bliss succeeded in crawling through a window, supposing he could pull his wife and children after him. But they were jammed fast and every effort of his was unavailing. The car was all jammed up, and the lady and her children were caught in the ironwork of the seats. Finding that he could not save them, he staid there with them and died.

Miracle Strip Model Railroad Club in Shalimar, Florida…

Went there for a visit, most likely my last in a long time because of the gas involved. I wanted to get a good batch of pictures and videos to put together a presentation for them that highlighted more of their upgrades and equipment. Found Ray, Bob and a new member working on the yard modules of the club’s portable layout. They were upgrading the turnouts from #4s to #6s and reconfiguring the yard throats and roundhouse area.





I have many pictures to post of this visit that I will show in the coming daze including a photo spread of Paul’s scratchbuilt circus train and their new engine servicing facilities.