The Conductor on October 4th, 2009

In railroad terminology, a whistle post is a sign that advises a locomotive engineer when to sound the train’s whistle.  Here are a couple examples of whistle posts:

Whistle posts are usually placed about 1/4 of a mile in advance of approaching railroad crossings in the United States.

The Conductor on October 2nd, 2009

Carpet Railways were the first model trains in the world!  They started to be manufactured and sold in the 1840s and were typically made of brass with an oscillating cylinder powering the main driving wheels.  These were essentially boilers on wheels, and did not run on tracks, instead running directly on the floor.  These Carpet Railways were soon nicknamed “Birmingham Dribblers” due to the water trail they left on the floor as they ran along.

Happy Railroading!

The great Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were financed in large part by the issuing of Thirty-year six percent U.S. Government Bonds.  These were, in effect, loans from the U.S. Government to the railroads, and must be paid back in thirty years or less.  The U.S. Government settled these bonds with the railroads in 1898 and 1899.  The total sum of the initial loans to the railroads was $64,623,512.  The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads final repayment to the U.S. Government was $167,746490!

The Conductor on September 28th, 2009

The history of standard time in the United States began November 18, 1883 when United States and Canadian railroads instituted standard time in time zones.  Before then, time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by some well-known clock (for example, on a church steeple). The new standard time system was not immediately embraced by all.

Use of standard time gradually increased because of its obvious practical advantages for communication and travel.  Standard time in time zones was not established in U.S. law until the Act of March 19, 1918, sometimes called The Standard Time Act.

The Conductor on September 27th, 2009

The Model Railway Club in London, England is the oldest model railroading society in the world.  Founded in 1910, The Model Railway Club is an amazing resource for model railroad enthusiasts.  Visit their website, to take advantage of excellent articles on a huge variety of model railroading topics including model locomotives, rolling stock, scenery, track displays, track building tips, model railroad conventions and more.  Becoming a member is relatively inexpensive, and if you happen to live in London or are visiting the city you can attend their weekly meetings.  They also publish a newsletter that covers interesting model railroading news.  Check them out when you have a chance, and Happy Railroading!

The Conductor on September 26th, 2009

Bachmann model trains are the largest selling, in terms of volume, brand model trains in the world.  Bachmann specializes in producing inexpensive yet high quality trains for the mass world market.  Originally a U.S. company headquartered in Philadelphia, Bachmann started producing model trains in the late 1960s, entering the market when N Scale model trains were at their peak popularity.  Today, however, the Bachmann model train brand is owned by a Chinese company, and the model trains and model railroading equipment, rolling stock, and scenery pieces are produced in a Chinese-govenment owned plant in Dongguan, China.

The Conductor on September 24th, 2009

Have you ever wondered when O Scale model railroads were first introduced to the public?  Or who the first manufacturer of O Scale model trains actually was?  Well, here’s your answer:  The German toy manufacturing company Marklin introduced the first O Scale model railroad around 1900.  Within 30 years, O Scale model railroads had become the most popular model railroading scale in the United States.

The Conductor on September 23rd, 2009

“AN ACT to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri river to the Pacific ocean, and to secure to the government the use of the same for postal, military, and other purposes.”

The Pacific Railway Act was approved and signed into law on July 1, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln.  Simply put, the Pacific Railway Act made the building of the United States Trans-Continental Railroad possible.  The building of the railroad was so expensive that no business could afford to build it.  Because the building of the railroad was of such vital importance to the U.S. government, President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress provided sufficient incentive for railroad men to build the railway.  These key incentives were generous land grants in the Western United States and the issuance of 30-year 6% U.S. Government Bonds to both the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad.  The Pacific Railway Act granted 10 square miles of public land on each side of the railroad tracks, alternating every other section (square mile), for every mile of track laid (except where railroads ran through cities and crossed rivers). The U.S. Government Bonds were issued at the rate of $16,000 per mile of tracked-grade completed West of the designated base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (for the Central Pacific Railroad) and East of the designated base of the Rocky Mountains (Union Pacific Railroad).   The Pacific Railway Act also provided that the issuance of bonds “shall be treble the number per mile” (to $48,000) for tracked-grade completed over and within the two mountain ranges (but limited to a total of three hundred miles at this rate), and doubled (to $32,000) per mile of completed grade laid between the two mountain ranges.  These two key incentives of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 provided enough economic encouragement to stimulate the greatest railroading project in history.

The Conductor on September 22nd, 2009

American Flyer model trains date all the way back to 1908 when the Edmonds-Metzel Hardware Company adopted the “American Flyer” brand name for the model trains they manufactured.  The American Flyer model train was initially developed as a budget model railroading brand in an effort to secure part of the model train market that was dominated by the Ives Company in the early 1900s.  However, with its early success in the model railroad market, the Edmonds-Metzel Hardware Company expanded their product line and began developing high-end model train locomotives, passenger cars and additional rolling stock.  The American Flyer brand continued to grow both in market share and reputation, and in 1937 A.C. Gilbert purchased the brand.  During the period of 1937 to 1966 under the auspices of the A.C. Gilbert Company, American Flyer model trains rose to become an industry leader in premium, beautifully crafted trains.  Here are a few pictures of American Flyer model train locomotives, passenger cars and rolling stock from this period:

The Conductor on September 21st, 2009

Safety with tools is an important matter to consider when model railroading.  Safety glasses should be worn whenever materials are being cut or drilled.  Hobby knife blades and small drill bit tips break periodically and can easily fly into an eye.  Also, wear safety glasses when using motor tools, power saws or other power tools.  Furthermore, always position your fingers out of the way when cutting material (such as track boards, track scenery, rolling stock detailing, etc.).  Wearing a dust mask while sanding and grinding is also a good idea.  Sawdust and fine metal particulate will irritate the lungs, throat and nose.  Finally, wear earplugs when using loud power tools.  Following these simple safety tips will help you to ensure a safe railroading environment.