I know I say this a lot; but this year is flying by. We are now into the second week of May! Memorial Day is right around the corner; then June 21; then July 4th. Where is the time going? It wasn’t that long ago we were saying good bye ( and good riddance ) to 2020! Blackberry Winter has came and now is waning…and we are getting ready to fire up the BBQ grills and get the bikes back out for riding ( bicycles; not motorcycles here).

Progress on the layout ground to a halt; as work has kept me busy for about two months straight. Added work responsibilities and resuming normal duties have taken much time. This past week was exhausting as it involves several days of long hours with sleep deprivation included.

Will get back to the layout in short order, however; as several ideas have been realized and settled. GP15-1 #1627 will be the first unit out of the paint shop later in May. The Bench work will be positioned and and I might be able to start on some track laying at last. In the meantime; I have been struggling with a couple of issues related solely to Model Trains.

A model manufacturer has decided to not stock undecorated repair parts for their products. This same company decide a little while back that undecorated models weren’t feasible; even if we pre-ordered them. The problem is that this same company has sporadic quality control issues with its’ products that now cannot be remedied very easily; or not at all if one happens to get a defective product. Needless to say, this hasn’t been a great thing for many of us in the hobby. COVID 19 is a major contributing factor with this; as it has forced this company and others to have its’ workers spread out remotely working away from their normal routine and place of business. However, the tide against undecorated models has been a decision that has been in effect for some time now with this company.

So, one must buy their products sight unseen; and hope for the best when they show up. If a part is broken; either send the whole unit back; or wait for a repair part that may or may not be there; of which will be taken from an existing model…painted and all with glue and broken glue bonds…strip and repaint the entire model? Fortunately, I have good friend up in the Northern part of the US that ordered a TON of the one and ONLY run of GP38-2’s that were ran in undecorated versions…and I was able to get three of them from him. I hope that this company at least would allow one run of undecorated units to be pre-ordered to see if they are even feasible in the future? Time will tell. I’d even pay in advance to order parts.

I have stopped installing sound in my engines; and will have surplus of ESU sound decoders and Scale Sound Systems speakers for various HO scale diesels. I am returning to Digitrax Decoders and my original intentions of this layout. I have the latest in duplex wireless control and plan to use it. I will also make a brand new Proto Throttle setup available in the near future. I am continuing the downsizing of the collection for quality items only…versus quantity. I did pick up a couple of undecorated Atlas Red Box GP40’s just because they were available and are quality units. They allow me the flexibility in the even that Neilson Junction returns to the layout plans in the bigger basement with a house on top.

Looking forward to the STL RPM meet that is coming up at the end of July. I have to get busy and get my items ready if I am going to display this year. If not; I’ll just attend in person for one day and check things out. Time will tell.

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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.