Well, February passed us by…and I was not sorry to see it go. Three weeks of ice and snow…enough already! Here we are in the first full week of March 2022. Lots of things going on around here. I am retiring from work finally in the Spring. I have a little over a month left to work at this point. I am very excited about the prospect of working on my train stuff and doing what I want to do…it’s finally here. I have resumed working on new things for the layout and we are moving ahead with the new house plans and such.

I have cleaned up my train room and started organizing again. I have resumed work on my GP15-1 fleet; in preparation for the big date where I become a full time modeler. The house is getting some renovations too…as the long-overdue kitchen remodel is in full swing as well. The kitchen of the house is the latest phase in revamping the home and getting it ready to enjoy right now while we start taking down the older home on the new property location outside of town.

I hope to see some new releases this year in the Missouri Pacific and C&EI flavor. I briefly toyed with the idea of building the old CB&Q line in West Frankfort while I waited to build the bigger MP/CEI layout…but I have been unable to find some Athearn Genesis GP7’s in Chinese Red/Gray…but that doesn’t meant that I won’t substitute some Kato GP35’s instead!! I have the decals in hand from Microscale…and I have always loved the Chinese Red/Gray scheme of the Burlington.

The Burlington’s West Frankfort Old Ben Number 9 branch ran east through town on a high fill and trestle network until it reached “Frankfort Heights” area of town…not quite two blocks from my parents’ home…so I am also quite familiar with this line as well…even after being abandoned in the early 1970’s after Old Ben Number 9 closed in 1968. However, I don’t think that idea will take hold. I have hired Bob Sprague again to do the larger version of the layout…still centered on West Frankfort and including much longer and more robust versions of the mines and mine branch trackage.

I have been contracting my turnout building out as well; and have received some fantastic scratch built turnouts in Code 70 with Micro Engineering Rail…to match my flex track and commercial ME turnouts. I am very excited at this juncture to reach this point…and will either build some straight modular sections that I can take with me to the new site…or just some test tracks to run on.

At any rate, it seemed at one point retirement would not be possible…and now it seems like it is a dream that it is finally here. I am looking forward to diving back into the hobbies that I love so much. I look forward to sharing with you all these adventures and will also re-launch my YouTube Site. I wish you all peace, prosperity, happiness, and health!

April showers bring May flowers.

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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.