August 2023

Published by Thomas Austin on

Well, the RPM meet is in the books in STL/Collinsville. I can say the meet was an overall success for myself and friend Brian Banna; who visited me for a few days from North Carolina and we attended the meet together. I would say the only thing lacking is quality content of the clinics at the show; IMO. However, there are still things that can be classified as RPM-type clinic presentations at the show. I was also nice to see the models separate from the vendors again; as it was in the beginning. When John Golden approach myself with this idea in the early 2000’s, I thought it would be a great venue as it continued to progress. The Historical Society attendance has also increased over the years as well. At one time there were major announcements done at the show; but that hasn’t been the case lately.

Building several models recently; mostly for friends. I have been in a groove that hasn’t been present in me for a decade or so; and it’s been nice to be back at the bench. I am chomping at the bit to get my layout going again; after MANY stalled attempts; but no luck yet; as I am still dealing with a divorce and it seems like I get anvils dropped on my head each week to deal with. Always seem to be cleaning up someone elses mess. Sigh…

The National Train Show yielded some great announcements from a few manufacturers. Athearn Genesis won the day for me with their Union Pacific CA-11 project. It’s going to be a big seller for them; as UP sells; plain and simple. I will purchase at least 3 of these cars just to have them; and I may blend them in on a few early 1983 coal trains; but I am hesitant to allow any canaries on my layout permanently. The GP40 duals continue with Rapido and Class One…however, we will have to wait and see on the Class One. They didn’t have anything on the GP40 at either the RPM or NTS. So, time will tell. For now, my money is still on the Atlas GP38/40…warts and all. In fact, I’m going to build a GP38 with Cannon parts on the front end; Brian Banna steps for the Atlas step wells; and an Athearn Genesis Drive. I could do the same with an Atlas GP40…or just use the Atlas drive and replace the fuel tank with an Athearn tank. The ex-Rock Island GP40’s had the 3000 gallon tanks…so that’s easy with a milling machine and Athearn parts.

As I said earlier; my divorce has really taken a chunk of time to deal with. But I have managed to stay positive. My health is still good; and I continue to take care of myself better these days. I finally got to enjoy the train shows this year without all the drama of the past years; as people may have noticed my disposition has returned to positive and straight forward.

I’m selling my Micro Engineering track and switches in the Code 83 and Code 70; so if you’re in the market for brand new unused track and switches; send me an email at [email protected].

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Thomas Austin

I am a Southern Illinois Native. I am a fan of nostalgia, and the history of Southern Illinois. Model Railroading has been a large part of my life; and it helps serve that interest. Through this interest I have learned much about the region; the people; and the industries that gave us all hope of building a life beyond our formal education. Small Towns in the Midwest built this nation...and this site aims to share that fact with the world.