December 2023

Published by Thomas Austin on

This year is quickly coming to an end. The layout (original plan) was published in Model Railroader magazine in the January 2024 issue. It’s been a dream of mine to have my layout published in Model Railroader; and I am grateful to Bob Sprague for doing the article and collaborating with me on the design of the layout for my former home. Conceptually, the layout design fulfilled all of my model train wants and dreams. I was always trying to put too much into a given space; and having this layout designed told me that focusing on a one-town layout with a single industry in mind was indeed the correct way to go.

I had been subscribing to Lance Mindheim’s approach to “less is more” and focusing on what I REALLY wanted in a layout. The cars and locomotives that I had long sought after are now available; I have been able to contact excellent craftsmen and designers to help with me with the residual and remaining projects that I want for my hobby; and over the years I can really look back with pride and fond memories of the things that made them all possible. West Frankfort is now my home again; and I am grateful to be home; and will look forward to stretching Bob’s design out in a rectangular basement setup versus the 3 deck layout that he designed there. My basement is 55′ x 35′ now; and I have the space that I have always wanted. So, excitement is an all time high in that regard.

With the trials and tribulations of the past year hopefully behind me, I look forward to the new year with hope of continued progress and more modeling projects completed. I have had little time of late to work on stuff; as I have been working part time for a bit to help ease the residual debt from last year’s divorce and move. I am also concerned with the health of my last brother; and made a trip out west to see him in November. I will be traveling out to see him again in the near future. So, my thoughts have been with him and his situation of late.

I still get time to work on stuff occasionally, and am finishing up a second GP28 for friend Steve Hamilton of St. Louis, MO. Steve is a great friend of mine and an awesome MoPac modeler in his own right; after seeing his work with weathering; I might do a future engine for him in exchange for his weathering mine! I do plan to get my YouTube page up and running in January 2024; and take a more active role in my hobby once more as the new year approaches.

Many hills have been climbed this year with little or nothing left in the tank; and I am looking forward to a new year of possibilities and progress on the Joppa Sub. The switch over to Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 is complete; and I am anxiously awaiting the Amherst Show to see the new announcements this year. Model Railroading helps keep my mind from the blues at times during the holidays when I realize that my family is all but gone and I stay positive while thinking of them and the memories of Christmas’ past. This is the first year I have put a Christmas tree up since 2010. Of course, my kitty cats like the shiny objects on it; and they provide hours of entertainment by themselves as they explore the new thing in the living room.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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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.