I’ve had web pages about all sorts of stuff on the Internet since I was in graduate school in 1993.  I got the PolyWeb.com domain name in 1996. Dan’s Railroad Site was my home page for train content until I started this WordPress blog. Having a blog-style website is far more efficient (and fun) in terms of being easily able to add content.

Some of the content from the old site has (or will be) moved over to the blog. Some things of interest at the other site:

Pictures of Nickel Plate Road (NYC & St.L) 2-8-2 587. These are mainly useful as steam locomotive weathering guides although 587 is kept pretty clean. The pictures are from Kodak Photo CD format scans I had made. Before the widespread availability of digital cameras it was an expensive chore making digital images for the web. You’ll also note that the images are rather small — before broadband Internet connections folks would scream at you if your pages took too long to load over a modem. They still scream but one mainly gets to ignore them now.

My second layout: The North Pacific Coast in HOn3. As a way to avoid working too hard on (one of) my Master’s degrees I built a small 30″ x 8′ HOn3 layout in our little apartment in Studio City. It had 12″ radius curves and 12 percent grades. The 12″ radius was not a problem, especially if you love small-short equipment. The grades were stupid. I got the tack laid and the basic scenery in place before I had to basically toss it into a dumpster to move to a Ph.D. program at Indiana University. Geat fun and lots of experience gained.

I learned bunches about how to build layouts from how my layouts failed. What did I learn?

Practical Advice:

  • Use homasote or soft pine under your track! I spiked directly into 1/2″ plywood and it was a miserable time.
  • Keep those grades reasonable! I once used 10 to even 12 percent grades and that was way too steep.
  • Only Fools put turnouts, grades, and curves on bridges at the same time! — ‘Nuf said.

Philosophical Advice: Apply grains of salt as necessary.

  • Even a small space can be interesting. I loved an HOn3 layout that was only 30″ by 8′. I hope to use a larger version as part of my next layout (honey, the car dosen’t HAVE to be in the garage, does it?).
  • DO IT! I always used to look at MODEL RAILROADER pictorials and say “my layout would look better.” Now I have much more respect for the people who actually commit and DO IT! A lot of us get kind of scared to take that step and really build a layout. Execution is always the ruin of that perfect idea in your head but once you accept the reality of your work it will be beautiful (and fun!).
  • When you have the money, you usually don’t have the time.