Thursday, February 21, 2019

Two-for-One SP Switching in MRP 2019

I always enjoy working with Editor Tony Koester and Kalmbach in publishing one of my custom layout design projects in Model Railroad Planning. This time around, it was actually two layouts – both based on the same area of Clackamas, OR in the 1990s.

The first client was looking for a basic HO layout for this specific industrial area served by the Southern Pacific to fit some on-hand pre-fab sectional benchwork. The layout was set to occupy a fairly restricted space, so while we were able to add one more section, things were tight.

The second client inquired a few weeks after that project was finished. He wanted an N Scale switching layout located somewhere in the west to operate a wide selection of ‘90s SP-and-kin diesels. Bloody Nose, Speed Lettering, Kodachrome, etc. I described the previous HO project, just as an example of the kind of thing we might do. No need to look further, he decided, and so Clackamas was redone in N scale.

Better artwork and more details are found in the MRP article, which is part of another great overall issue. Download a .pdf of this image here.

Coincidentally, a friend who lives near the modeled area had decided before the magazine was published to build a layout of the same industrial area – but in two-rail O Scale! He’s already on his way to a track plan, but I might be able to make a suggestion or two. It’s a three-fer!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Once Every 15 Years, I Guess

When I started layout design and ops consulting in 2004, I knew that I needed to appear on the web. I was in a hurry, so choosing my email ISP for my web hosting for convenience’ sake was the path of least resistance. After all, I only expected to need about six or eight pages – how big a job would it be to re-do it later?

Yeah, about that. 60+ pages later, it’s a huge job. Over the years I’ve added topics of general usefulness for folks (I hope), as well as examples of custom layout designs for clients.

The creaky and arcane tools I started with in 2004 never really got much of an upgrade. And recently, my previous ISP announced they would be shutting down the tools, which would delete my site.

It’s probably for the best. The previous tools had been balky and not remotely easy-to-use for the last five or so years. Not to mention that nearly 40% of the recent visits to my site are coming from phones and tablets rather than traditional browsers. My old site did a poor job of accommodating these visitors.

The new tools I am using allow better interfaces for these devices, although I have not yet tweaked every page for best appearance. But the most-commonly-visited pages should be better for mobile users now – and I will get to the rest over the next few weeks.

Because of the arcane limitations of the Year 2000-era tools, web addresses (URLs) for my previous site were non-standard. That means that the addresses of content have changed on the new site, but nearly all of it has been recreated somewhere on the new site. It was painful to give up a decade-and-a-half of others’ links to my content, but it’s the price of existing in the current millennium.

Another consequence of retirement of these tools is that my personal web pages on the Oakland Harbor Belt layout concept will also disappear. But I’ve moved on to a new concept (more on that later) and I have archived the OHB content to make it available in some form sometime in the future (as if anyone is interested!).

When the numbers of visitors to started to grow quickly in 2008, I began paying closer attention to visitor- and page view counts. Since the beginning of 2009 my site has served over 3.5 Million page views. Not bad for a site that just started out as hanging out a consulting shingle in cyberspace.

So thanks for your support and interest over the years, and I apologize for the inconvenience of lost URLs. If you would like to link to my content again, I encourage you to do so – and thanks for that effort.