February rolled in and reminded us that winter is still here. But, to those of us who are native southern Illinoisans; this is no surprise. We are used to getting our ice and snow in the last months of winter. Actually, it’s kind of relief to myself; kind of a return to normal. Now, if we can get the pandemic under control…all will be well.

It is really nice to see things humming along without daily rage tweets; it has allowed us to relax a bit. The vaccine is slowly making its’ way to southern Illinois…but we’re also used to being down the totem pole for these things as well. I expect that we will be in a much better shape around late Spring…if all goes well.

Not much on the railroad front this month…as progress has stalled on the Buckhorn Industrial branch. I have the benchwork up; and am waiting for decent weather again to cut track boards. I am now building the GP15 fleet in preparation for operating some coal trains on the branch. I plan another week or so off in March…and will attempt to get the track down and running that week. Scale Sound Systems is back up and running and I got custom speakers from them…I usually order all that I need at one time; since he builds to order. It’s better for both of us. These are the BEST speakers for onboard sound on the market. Check them out at scalesoundsystems.com

I have thought about drawing the modules (2′ x 4′ box girder ripped from birch) with 3rd PlanIt and ordering the track boards from Randy…and I might try that this weekend.

I pulled the Easy-Helix ™ from storage to allow the trains to go to staging and such. But I am pretty much done with double deck layouts. Since I went back to open grid benchwork and ripping my own lumber; I have come to enjoy visual appearance of neat and tidy benchwork versus the narrow shelf appearance on spindly shelf brackets. I purchased a 60″ round table to set the helix on and to speed construction; since the helix will sit on threaded rods that are anchored to 1 x 2 feet; with the rods counter-sunk from the bottom to allow the 1 x 2s to lay flat on the long side.

I would also suggest to my railroad friends that read this blog to really think about narrowing your focus of ‘what to model’. It will help speed things along and get your trains up and running in short order. The old paralysis by analysis syndrome can strike at any minute; and can delay you for MONTHS…if you’re not careful.

I will finally add some benchwork photos this week to show the progress and the look of the room with the new IKEA shelving under the layout modules. It is a really NICE looking setup. I wish I had done that sooner. I also want to give a shout-out to my son Christopher and his side kick Colby again for the beautiful job they did on my train room and 3rd floor room of our 100+ year old home. They worked their butts off on this room and it’s a beautiful place to live and enjoy…

February is a short month…and so is the blog…we will stroll into March.

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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.