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A Modest Model Railroad 170

Endymion53 writes "The TMRC at MIT may be the best known model railroad layout because of its role in the formation of hacking culture, but railroad uber-enthusiast Jack Burgess has built himself a pretty enviable layout, that does its best to capture the look and route of an old rail line that went to Yosemite National park, called the Yosemite Valley railroad. I was tempted to make some crass remarks about having too much time on one's hands, but frankly, the whole thing looks just awesome. He's been working on this thing since 1981."
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A Modest Model Railroad

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  • Just amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by calmdude ( 605711 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:04PM (#8072302)
    A System One "hammer head" throttle for the DCC system; note that these tethered throttles have since been retro-fitted by North Coast Engineering (NCE) as radio-controlled throttles. The various buttons are labeled for control speed, direction, sound and lighting effects, etc. Programming of a locomotive can also be done "on the fly" using these throttles.

    Apart from the attention to detail, the actual functionality is absolutely astounding!

    • Re:Just amazing (Score:2, Informative)

      by DMCBOSTON ( 714393 )
      Model railroading is as addictive as free beer. A Slashdotter would understand it, if exposed to it. Just plain fun. I remember the days of the eighties where a PC could be used to control the switches and stuff through the printer port. Some folks are into history, some into accurate modeling (including weathering, some into track layout and fabrication and of course scenery construction. It's all fun, you can pick and choose what you want to do and there's no criticism, really. But Google for "garden ra
  • by drayzel ( 626716 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:05PM (#8072314)
    Wow! That is some great detail! I think I can even see a little minature Ringo Starr as MR. Conductor standing next to Thomas the train.
    • No, actually it's George Carlin.
      • You should count yourself lucky that you never saw Ringo as Mr. Conductor. He is almost as bad an actor as he is singer.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shining_Time_Station

        Ringo Starr - Mr. Conductor (1990-1991)
        George Carlin - Mr. Conductor (1991-1993)


        ~Z
    • George has been a very naughty engine and must spend the rest of the day in the sidings.
  • Ever wonder what happens when a website gets smacked by a locomotive?

    CHooooo Chooooo!

    I-serve-I-can I-serve-I-can I--serve--I--can I---serve---I---can
    I------------serve----------- I------------can

    CHooooo Chooooo!

    Slash-a-dot-a Slash-a-dot-a Slash-a-dot-a Slash-a-dot-a Slash-a-dot-a
  • A True Historian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jrandall ( 682594 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:11PM (#8072336)
    You are very quick to make fun of this gentleman, who has obviously invested quite a lot of his time into creating this railroad. I am sure he has quite a lot of fun doing this work, but aside from that it should be obvious to anyone who actually visited his site that he is a true historian. He has actually researched the original railroad and presents much of his information on-line as well as running what amounts to an operating museum.

    I, for one, appreciate his work and would love to be able to visit his layout and enjoy it as I would any other historical museum.

    • Agreed, a grand effort, we're not worthy.
    • Re:A True Historian (Score:5, Informative)

      by samschul ( 744798 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @10:25PM (#8072688)
      I have meet Jack Burgess when I was researching the Yosemite Valley Railroad to build by own version under Microsoft train simulator. Jack has so much data that he has collected on this railroad, I could believe he is probablly the worlds most knowlegable person on its history. He has also produced a book that is scheduled to be published soon that covers the history of the YVRR along with modeling tips.
    • by speleo ( 61031 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @11:11PM (#8072852) Homepage
      I've visited Jack's layout several times. To say it's impressive would be an understatement.

      Jack is *the* expert on the Yosemite Valley Railroad and has modeled it down to the smallest detail, including time-table operation for the scheduling of the trains based on what was actually running on the real railroad in August of 1939.

      And his craftsmanship is outstanding.

      Jack is an engineer and is very familiar with computers and has used CAD to design to construct his layout.

      To put it another way, Jack is an ESR or Linus equivalent in the model railroad community.
      • To put it another way, Jack is an ESR or Linus equivalent in the model railroad community.
        Not really... What he did/is doing seems odd to 'outsiders', but it quite common inside the model railroad community. (Read Model Railroader for a few months and you'll see more than few.)

        If model railroading has a guru, it's John Allen of the Gorre & Daphetid.
      • He's good, but no ESR or Linus.

        That would be Allen Mclelland or the late John Allen.

        Jack would be one of the minor gods though.
    • History? Who cares! It looks like a load of fun!

      One day, perhaps, I'll have the time to break out the old HO-scale train set and do something like that (or as near as I can manage).
  • by Embedded Geek ( 532893 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:15PM (#8072352) Homepage
    route of an old rail line...

    I've seen a few layouts done that are supposed to recreate actual rail lines and I've always been puzzled by one thing. Given the geography of the room where someone sets up their layout and also the necesity of accessing the layout (if only to observe the fruits of all that hard work), I've always presumed such layouts are not attempts to faithfully duplicate the layout of the rail line but to represent the scenery through which a traveler would pass. That is, there's no attempt to duplicate or scale "Then this spur goes east for 24 miles before it turns north for three more..." just do something like "and after we pass through the pine forest here near the bedroom door, we hit the town of Pidegeonville, which I placed next to the window..."

    A silly question, but wanted to make sure I understood the "ground rules" of these recreations.

    Personally, I never got past an oval under the Christmas tree and trying to scare the cat, although I did work as a waiter on the Southwest Chief [amtrak.com] one summer in college. I don't think most modelmakers would care to recreate the Leavenworth prison or the vagrant we ran over near L.A. Union Station, though.

    • by clem.dickey ( 102292 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:42PM (#8072486)
      >I've always presumed such layouts are not attempts to faithfully duplicate the layout of the rail line

      True. A 40 mile run in N-scale would be 1/4 mile of track. Most people don't have that much space. Nor do they want to spend the hour or so that it would take a train to travel that distance. Modelers use "selective compression" to show only the most interesting parts of the line, and a "fast clock" (typically 10x normal time) to get a full day's railroading done in an hour or two.
    • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yahoo. c o m> on Friday January 23, 2004 @11:26PM (#8072928)
      I've always presumed such layouts are not attempts to faithfully duplicate the layout of the rail line but to represent the scenery through which a traveler would pass. That is, there's no attempt to duplicate or scale "Then this spur goes east for 24 miles before it turns north for three more..." just do something like "and after we pass through the pine forest here near the bedroom door, we hit the town of Pidegeonville, which I placed next to the window..."

      You are correct. There are actual scale model railroads (there's a museum in Chicago with a real scale model railroad of the Chicago area, for example - it's really impressive!), but they're rare. Most model railroaders attempt to model the "spirit" of a railroad, along with maybe some of its individually distinctive features, but they'll drastically shorten the "dead" areas of a railroad and/or combine the less distinctive features. The point is to capture the highlights of a railroad. Of course, many people don't bother modeling real railroads because they don't want to burden themselves with questions of accuracy - they just build whatever they think looks nice.

      Same is actually true for the trains themselves. There's a segment of model railroaders who are derisively called "rivet counters" by the rest - these are people who are absolute sticklers for train model accuracy down to the last rivet. Most model railroaders, though, will accept some inaccuracies in their trains, and one of the main areas of inaccuracies is in the consists. Like layouts themselves, this is to save space - in HO scale, a typical passenger train made up of three or four locomotives and 17 or 18 85' cars could be 21-22 feet long! Most model railroaders do not run accurate trains; they run representations of them, featuring one or at the most two of every type of car in a passenger train, or simply shortened freight trains (many of which are just long and monotonous in real life anyway, IMO).

      Of course, choosing a smaller scale will let you model more in the same space, but sometimes in less detail. In the US, HO scale is most popular because it still generally offers the best balance between detail level and space savings (vs. the original O scale). In Japan, N scale is the most popular because of the small size of many dwellings there - and I also think because Japanese model railroading is more fixed-consist passenger-oriented (vs. mixed freight here), so to model a train that looks remotely realistic you have to run fairly long trains. N scale has also improved dramatically in detail level over the past 20 or so years, so I expect if this hobby survives there will be a gradual increase in the popularity of N scale in this country, leading to somewhat more realistically-sized layouts.

      It's a hobby still in slow decline in the US, though, going hand in hand with the decline of passenger trains in general (and the rise of other pastimes such as video and computer games - kids who in generations past would grow up with train sets are now growing up with PlayStations instead). Which is a shame - many of these layouts really are true historical documents, in the same way any museum diorama is. And they're fun, too!
      • The Musuem you speak of is the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Easily the most enjoyable musuem I've ever been in, the model railroad is much more then the Chicago area. The actual city is only one small part of it, it is actually a scale model of the entire route from Chicago to Seattle. There is a site for it here: http://www.msichicago.org/exhibit/great_train_sto r y/index.html
        The musuem also has a complete locomotive on display. If your ever in the area it's definitly worth seeing.
  • Model Railroading (Score:5, Informative)

    by nemesisj ( 305482 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:17PM (#8072363) Homepage
    This reminds me a lot of the beautiful Gorre & Daphetid Railroad by the late John Allen. Hands down the most amazing layout I've ever seen, there used to be a book in print called "Model Railroading with John Allen". He revolutionized the hobby because he was a professional photographer and spent incredible time on the photos he would send in to magazines etc.

    It's been awhile since I was a subscriber to Model Railroader (50 bucks a year for a student is steep), but in the early nineties it seemed like the convergence of computers and model railroading was finally beginning to happen so that people who weren't in MIT and were still interested in controlling trains with computers could begin to tinker.

    Course, the ultimate limitation on model railroading seems to always be space, so I'm hoping that when I have some space in the future I'll be able to get a layout going again, and even have fun working on the computer aspect.
    • by clem.dickey ( 102292 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:46PM (#8072507)
      > [John Allen] revolutionized the hobby because he was a professional photographer

      His college training was in art, and he made some good investments which left him financially independent at a young age. Both of those help. Those and a sense of humor.
    • Re:Model Railroading (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Spud Stud ( 739387 )
      The Gorre & Daphetid was the primary inspiration for me to build one as a kid. I could never duplicate the sheer vertical scale of John Allen's masterpiece, but I did the best I could to build winding tunnels and towering tressels. John Allen and the Gorre & Daphetid - RIP
      • I know what you mean - I came across his book as a fifth grader and was completely blown away by his layout. The story, scenery, and ridiculous attention to detail really raised the bar from other railroads I've seen in the past. Plus, there was just something so authentic from the scenes that he designed, and in the book it talks extensively how he spent years planning his railroad, building a first test layout, then a medium sized one, then his masterpiece.

        He's also really famous for the switching game
      • John Allen and the Gorre & Daphetid - RIP

        I remember feeling a bit cheated to read of John's death and the loss ten days later of the G&D. That's 31 years ago.

        Another memory was watching Warren Beatty in "Dick Tracy" - the nightime scenes by the docks looked just Like one of John Allen's simulated nightime shots of Port City (well at least the color and mood).

        Wonder how many of the young'uns on Slashdot would know how to pronounce Gorre & Daphetid.

    • Yeah, but the problem is he was five years old at the time.
  • Not bad, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by uradu ( 10768 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:20PM (#8072378)
    for probably the largest digital layout in the world, check out this [miniatur-wunderland.de] in Hamburg. Unfortunately it's only in German, but the pictures speak for themselves (click the logo to enter, then "Fotos" in the top menu, then any of the secondary menu items). The layout was designed fully digital from the beginning, with all accessories (cars, boars, cable cars etc.) also fully digitally controlled. These guys are true nerds that built a lot of the electronics themselves. The layout has cost over EUR4M so far.
    • Re:Not bad, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wakkow ( 52585 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:35PM (#8072455) Homepage
      I know most of you are too lazy to look at the photos.. but please look [lightfist.de]. That setup is amazing.
    • I've always been a fan of German engineering, they also make practical stuff too.
    • http://www.maerklin.com/

      The above system in Hamburg looks like the Maerklin trains. They have a digital control system where by you don't have to have any blocks to control your trains. You put out full voltage onto the rails at all times and then the engines know what direction they should go and how fast to go. It is a much better system and more realistically approximates the way real trains work.

      I believe that you can even control the switches with this system.

      In reading through the MIT page, I wa
      • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yahoo. c o m> on Saturday January 24, 2004 @12:56AM (#8073312)
        The above system in Hamburg looks like the Maerklin trains.

        Or as we call them in the US, "Marklin" trains :)

        Not sure which is more technically correct - it's an "a" with an umlaut over it, which is just too hard to type on an English keyboard/OS!

        They have a digital control system where by you don't have to have any blocks to control your trains. You put out full voltage onto the rails at all times and then the engines know what direction they should go and how fast to go. It is a much better system and more realistically approximates the way real trains work.

        Marklin has no copyright or trademark on this. It's called Digital Command Control and it's what most model railroaders the world over use today. See here [dcc.info]. Nearly all current model locomotives made and/or marketed in the US (and Europe and Japan, for that matter) are now DCC-ready.

        btw, Marklin trains are some high-quality trains, alright (my brother deals almost exclusively with them)... but so are a lot of other makes. There's always somewhat of a debate on who makes the best equipment, but I think most model railroaders agree that it really depends these days on the specific car/locomotive being modeled - one company may make a better looking and running ICE, another may make a better looking and running SD40-2, another may make a better looking and running Hudson J2E. All of the major manufacturers in HO and N (Kato, Tomix, Walthers, Atlas, Marklin, etc.) maintain at least a basic standard of quality - they're all at least good, all the time.

        Oh, and if you're wondering, metal is not better than plastic! At least not as a rule. It's nearly impossible to get the same level of precision and detail in die-cast as in plastic, and while brass is still fairly popular, it's also extremely expensive and extremely fragile (relegating brass trains mainly to display duty these days - nobody wants to derail a $5,000 train and see it go tumbling to the floor, pieces breaking off all the way down!).
        • Or as we call them in the US, "Marklin" trains :)

          Not sure which is more technically correct - it's an "a" with an umlaut over it, which is just too hard to type on an English keyboard/OS!


          Well, the "official" way (in Germany/Austria/Switzerland at least) to transcribe umlauts(?) if you don't want/can't use them is to replace them with the normal letter + 'e'. So 'Marklin'(with umlaut) would become 'Maerklin' as you can see by their websites www.maerklin.de [maerklin.de] and www.maerklin.com [maerklin.com]. OK, I just realized that
      • > Maerklin is the way to go!

        They implement the DCC system, which was first developed by Lenz in Germany and then made an official standard by the NMRA [nmra.org]. They do make very high quality and expensive equipment. But my opinion of Marklin is marred by my memory of my childhood Marklin AC train set with the center pickup. I just never really cared for either the unrealistic center pickup, or the equally unrealistic jerk when reversing direction. I know their DCC systems won't have either issues, but old preju
    • I saw the Miniature Wonderland at the age of 13, and I have to say hats off to them, and thanks to you for reminding me, I hadn't thought about it in years.

      It's true in that it is truly a wonderland, the size of place and the attention to details were remarkable, I had never imagined such a thing could exist until I saw it.
  • 1981! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bombadillo ( 706765 )
    Trains are so 1981. Trains were geek magnets back then. It seemed like everyone had trains back then. It would be nice to see a come back for trains.
  • HO, baby! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Wakkow ( 52585 ) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:26PM (#8072413) Homepage
    While you all argue over which text editor to use, the real debate is on which gauge is best. You N and O scale ain't got nothin' on my HO.
  • by BenFranske ( 646563 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:26PM (#8072415) Homepage
    If you find this sort of thing interesting (and their is a lot of application of computers in modern model railroading) why not join a local club. Heck, you could make the entire thing availible on a web site and allow remote control and view it over a webcam.

    One such local group is the Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum [tcmrm.org] which has a pretty nice layout [tcmrm.org] itself.
  • Hobby Stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:26PM (#8072417)

    I like hobby stuff and I've hosted the rebuilding story of a real steam car at http://stanleysteamer.pipingdesign.com for the past couple of years. Check it out if you like rebuilding originals.
  • by SideEffects ( 123663 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:27PM (#8072421)
    "Jim Dias holds short of the Merced yards to allow Ray deBlieck to clear a passing track so that he can run around his caboose and turn his engine and put it away on one of the turntable leads.

    All kidding aside, it's just a great setup.
  • by weeboo0104 ( 644849 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:29PM (#8072427) Journal
    I wish there were more pictures of these layouts though.

    I used to be a member of a model railroad club in Holly, Michigan. It was in an old movie theater and the layout covered ALL the floorspace. There was a balcony where the movie screen used to be and that's where we controlled the engine by wireless and kept the dispatch busy by updating them with our engine locations.

    It was a first-class layout there. Anybody else in Michigan ever visit the Detroit model railroad club in Holly?
    • by weeboo0104 ( 644849 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:46PM (#8072509) Journal
      Call me a karma whore, but I forgot to include the Detroit Model Railroad club info.

      Detroit Model Railroad Club. . . . . . . Scale: O
      104 N. Saginaw
      Holly, MI 48442-1405
      248/634-5811
      The Detroit Model Railroad Club was founded in January, 1935 as an off-shoot of The Detroit Society of Model Engineers. The Detroit Union Railroad is the basis for our freelance theme with connections with the various railroads which served the Detroit area in 1957. The narrow gage will depict eastern type narrow gage. We have 35 active members and a number of associate members. Calling the old Holly theater our home, we feel that being in an old theater creates a unique atmosphere for model railroading. Being the largest model railroad in the State of Michigan brings people in from many areas.

      Meetings: Tuesday nights from 7PM to 10PM to work on the layout and have Open Houses for the public on certain weekends. We have about 40 active and 60 associate members and new members are welcome.

      Here a list [tfs.net] of model railroad clubs in Michigan.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    See...people with Asperger's can do amazing things!
    • This comment made me chuckle, and I was tempted to use my moderator points (jealous?) to mod it up, but then decided to do something even more rare for me... post a reply. My 3 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Asperger's, and I had begun researching Model Railroading has a possible therapy tool and something that she and I could do together through the years. At the moment she is in love with her Thomas the Tank Engine wooden set. Nurturing such interests in Asperger's cases is key. Anybod
  • Stop motion films... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by addie ( 470476 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:29PM (#8072434)
    Being a stop-motion hobbyist, a setpiece like this would just be a dream to work with. Amazing!
    • > Being a stop-motion hobbyist, a setpiece like this would just be a dream to work with. Amazing!

      "Now arriving on platform 1 is the 10:45 from Yosemite."
      "Ready to depart on platform 3 is the 12:05 to Kirkwood".
      "The AT-AT from Hoth is currently boarding on platform 7."

  • by toxic666 ( 529648 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:32PM (#8072447)
    Before /. techno geeks laugh at this guy's dedication to the hobby too loudly, remember that the railroads were the work of America's original high-tech geeks. This is much more impressive than running a Trash 80.

    Railroaders were the technical cutting edge of the 19th century. Financial over-investments in transportation (both canals and rail) contributed to the 1837 Panic. Gee, times have changed (heh!).

    Yeah, I play Loki's RT2 Linux port. But I'm not knowledgable enough about the real thing to be a credible rail fan.
    • Before /. techno geeks laugh at this guy's dedication to the hobby too loudly, remember that the railroads were the work of America's original high-tech geeks. This is much more impressive than running a Trash 80.

      Railroaders were the technical cutting edge of the 19th century. Financial over-investments in transportation (both canals and rail) contributed to the 1837 Panic. Gee, times have changed (heh!).

      Also consider that from around 1900-1930 1 in 5 Americans worked directly for the railroads. No othe

    • Before /. techno geeks laugh at this guy's dedication to the hobby too loudly, remember that the railroads were the work of America's original high-tech geeks. This is much more impressive than running a Trash 80

      Not just American. My first interest when I was very very young was model railways. It's that that taught me electrics, electronics and logic. From there I moved on to electronics as a hobby and then from there to computers starting with the ubiquitous TRaSh-80 and following it up with the Be
  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:35PM (#8072459)
    Isn't it interesting how the first response to anyone who is truly devoted to something other than getting drunk or watching Celebrity Idol Millionaire is "they must be wasting their time" or they need "a life?"

    Does this not perfectly describe the difference between "producer" and "consumer?"

    Would that we, as a society, could find a way to encourage people to value productive, thinking time. Such people produce literature, invention and wisdom.
  • Poor guy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lblack ( 124294 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:38PM (#8072470)
    Model Railroad Tour - I have had hundreds of visitors to my layout. Here is a chance to take a short virtual tour.

    [Emphasis mine]

    And I mean, it's *right there* when you read the page. Couldn't you at least set up a Paypal account or something so that people who visit the site can kick a pity dollar for smalltime, image-heavy, hobbyist sites like this?

    Did the guy get a warning, at least? Since the site hasn't buckled, I'm assuming he's bursting his metered bandwidth as I type, and paying an awful lot for the privilege.

    Slashdot should at least buy one of his books.

    leem

    p.s. Totally amazing dedication that this guy has put into the hobby.
    • Re:Poor guy (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Looks like he has sbc hosting,

      Additional Data Transfer (Billed Automatically) $ 0.10 / MB / month

      (the plans look like they start with 7-10GB/mo)

      That can't be good if he goes over. That price is a total ripoff imho.
      • Re:Poor guy (Score:3, Interesting)

        by quist ( 72831 )
        ...Additional Data Transfer (Billed Automatically)

        Unfortunately that appears to be the case. This morning I received a frustrated reply from Mr Burgess to a short complimentary email I sent last night. Quoting:

        ...exceeding bandwidth and running up the bill for a person with a personal web site. I have maintained a web site to share my hobby with others. ...is now costing me in excess of several thousand dollars.

        This is not good, guys. Not good at all.

        Granted, we know that bandwidth can be thr

    • A static site (which his is) can easily handle a Slashdotting on very modest hardware. Since hosting with oodles of bandwidth is relatively inexpensive these days, his web server may have barely noticed. I know my server can handle a Slashdotting with ease for static pages, and I get 700GB bandwidth a month so it would be a drop in the ocean bandwidth-wise.
  • Kinda off-topic, but this made me think with all the roller-coaster stuff lately linked on slashdot... does anyone know of people with backyard railroad setups using large-scale equipment, with steam powered mini locomotives and all that? I've seen a couple things like this on Home and Garden type shows, but no cool pics online, etc.
  • These are my dad's trains. [tripod.com]

    I built some of the buildings.
    Lots of pictures.

  • ... keep posting stuff like this! I've been wanting to really get going into a good hobby after some false starts in high school, and just last week I fetched my Alco PA-1 model out of storage as an inspiration.

    Gotta get off this computer and actually do something for once, y'know!
  • Beautiful! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by humankind ( 704050 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:58PM (#8072567) Journal
    The work this guy has done is amazing. Even if you aren't into these types of things, you cannot help but respect the tremendous attention to detail he has put into his work. If only most commercial programmers had the work ethic of this guy imagine the stability and performance of our software and other systems.
  • I'm confused about what the phones do. From what I read it looks like they are a party line to the station? what? The whole thing is pretty impressive, I didn't know people did things like that. That's my ignorance though.
    • The phones are for communicating with the dispatcher. One method is for the dispatcher to light a signal light at a station when he wants an engineer to stop and contact the dispatcher. It is also common for an engineer to call the dispatcher when departing a station.
  • by JAlanSnyder ( 549274 ) on Friday January 23, 2004 @10:40PM (#8072753)
    Jack Burgess is considered to be one of the all-time greats. His layout and the quality of his modeling are as good as any found anywhere. If you are involved in the hobby in any way you have most likely heard of him. It's a multi-faceted hobby; some like the modeling, some like the history, some like 'operations' which involves a small group of operators who try to run the layout like a real railroad, and some like the electronics. You can even write your own Java apps to control the layout - http://jmri.sourceforge.net/ - some guys are doing it with Linux. For more examples of some outstanding layouts search on George Sellios or Howard Zane.
  • I wonder if he's ever been tempted to put a couple of M-80s under one of the bridges and blow it up just a train passes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a model railroad enthusiast since I was a boy, I have been going to model rr shows all my life and you would be amazed at what they have integrated into them with computer controls and whatnot. When I retire I plan on building an 1800 SQ Foot building to build the ultimate RR in. If you thought this guy was off the wall... check this out... Nothlandz RR [northlandz.com] A spectacular adventure on this 1 mile indoor tour through a miniature world. Up to 100 trains running daily, and 8 miles of track are just the begin
  • Yosemite Valley 88 was pitched as an "eco-fiction" (more like and eco-fantasy) about how Yosemite could be made more in tune with nature. It does make mention of the YVRR (although not to the detail of Burgess's upcoming book) and explores replacing the roads in the park with solar electric powered railroads (one of the areas that came across more as fantasy than fiction).

    One reason for bringing it up is that the book described a computer network running over fiber-optic lines and a displaying several peo

  • Strange... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rrave ( 744831 ) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @12:55AM (#8073304)
    Kinda funny this showed up here. Been a slashdot watching for awhile now... Never expected to see this.

    I am actually part of a business that manufactures kits for model railroads. Right now we mostly make LargeScale which is for outdoor gardens... We use to do HO scale, and plan on going back into it soon.

    I have actually met the man who made the railroad posted, very dedicated, and great model railroader.

    Anyways, was just surprised to see something like this... Posted here...

    If you want to check out some largescale models you can check out our site at www.railroadavenue.com

    Just recently changed our host server (a couple days ago) so if you find any missing or screwed links, e-mail me if you could... I checked them all and it all worked, but you never know.

    P.S. You'd be suprised to see how many techies are in this hobby. I have met more than one rocket scientist, tons of engineers (the kind who design things), and a bunch of other "geeks".

    :)

  • by foom ( 29095 ) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @01:33AM (#8073451) Homepage
    Come on, I'm disappointed, only 7143 people linked to TMRC [mit.edu] from slashdot in the last 4.5 hours? At least you're nearly saturating our puny 10bT connection to the outside world. :)

    Outgoing rates: 7329.4 kbits/sec 621.8 packets/sec

  • by chocolatetrumpet ( 73058 ) <slashdot.jonathanfilbert@com> on Saturday January 24, 2004 @01:35AM (#8073454) Homepage Journal
    Since this may be the first exposure many /.ers have to some serious model railroading, I thought I'd broaden the perspective a little bit from the old standby HO (though not to at all belittle the beautiful work of Jack Burgess).

    Some stuff I've been drooling over lately:

    West-Side Locomotive Works [att.net]

    garden railroading images like this one [g-scale-society.co.uk]

    and of course my favorite model train company, Lehmann Gross Bahn [www.lgb.de]

    Enjoy, and add your own links!
  • Must... resist... urge... to go on Godzilla-like rampage.

    Probably why I never got too far in Sim City games either.
  • Roadside America (Score:4, Informative)

    by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @02:59AM (#8073723)
    Jack Burgess does have an eye for anthenticity, but his 20' by 20' layout is dwarfed by this old time tourist attraction called Roadside America, [roadsideamericainc.com] which is a miniature village that fills an entire warehouse with O scale model trains complete with running cars, trolleys, waterways, working crossing gates and signals, working coal trestles, wood mills, you name it. It still fascinates me since I saw it when I was a kid. And they turn the lights down periodically for a dramatic nighttime scene.

    Wholesome tourist attraction for kids and adults - you'll love it. Usual disclaimer applies.

  • Not as realistic, Charlemagne's Kingdom [georgiamodelrailroad.com] in Helen, Georgia (USA) has a stylized representation of Germany.
    The trains are only part of the setup, and run automatically.
    I went there on a slow day and mentioned that I was interested in model railroading.
    The owner took me in back and showed me the control room.
    It was pretty impressive.
    • Helen, Georgia [helenga.org] (also here [ngeorgia.com]) is a fascinating place in its own right. You drive along the highway through dozens of nondescript small Georgia towns (each fading into obscurity in its own way) then come around a curve in the road to find an alpine villiage from Bavaria! In the late 1960's, with the town's major industries gone, the citizens decided that they needed a new industry if the town was to survive, and went with tourism. To separate themselves from their neighbors, they went with a "theme": The en
  • Did he use an Itanium 2 for this, as indicated by the little sign "Merced Tower 2" a bit down one this page. I bet that was one of those subliminal messages. [yosemitevalleyrr.com]
  • I've been a railroad nut since I was a onion (sorry, NPR reference...)

    Dr. Bruce Chubb has a series running in Model Railroader (Starting Jan 2004 issue) to use input/output cards to run signals, turnouts, just about everything on a model railroad. Thing is, it's useful for any computer controled need. You can find the circuit cards here: Serial cards [jlcenterprises.net]

    If model Live Steam is your thing, check out these photos here [livesteaming.com]

    If you have a spare USD $800,000.00, you can buy a real, running steam locomotive [ozarkmountainrailcar.com].

    Or if you

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