October 2023

Published by Thomas Austin on

A little late in October for the blog entry. Lots going on around here. I finally sold the house in Centralia. The closing marked the end of a chapter in my life. I will indeed miss the old house; and all it had for me for 24 years. But, it’s time to move forward. The new adventures are out there and I am finally getting to enjoy retirement a bit. My divorce earlier this year took a lot of out of me; as the issues that surrounded it were long-standing and came to a head at the end of May 2022. I have been in limbo since that date; so-to-speak.

We moved to the current location in West Frankfort in May of this year. It’s been a roller coaster with the house sale moving slowly; resulting in losses of considerable amounts of resources. Along the way, I have learned alot about myself and what we really “need” versus what we “want”. I am much happier now without the constant drama and not-knowing what is coming next in my life. I had to give up a job that I loved because of the drama in the MoPac HS several years back; and have been through several bouts with burnout and wonking of the situation. But those days are in the past now.

I have built more locomotives since May of 2023 (8) ; than I have in a decade. I am currently working on my alltime GP15-1 fleet; with the all the bells and whistles this time. I have switched to Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 decoders; along with 3 of the new Blunami decoders because of their superior sound files; and the ability to add reverb and tailor-make each sound to my liking. I like being able to change the Configuration Variables on the fly; and have it happen instantaneously; rather than waiting 30 minutes for the file to upload.

I switched to Walthers Code 70 track; and sold off some more un-needed equipment. I have been getting more enjoyment out of less stuff; as the things we build in this hobby are so technically advanced; that we can’t possibly enjoy all of them at one time; so I choose to limit myself to a precious “fewer” items; and remain focused on the layout at hand. I attended the Great Midwest Train Show in Wheaton in October for the first time in about 8 years. It felt great to be back at Wheaton among the many vendors there. It’s not the same as it was under the Bill Grove or Randy Bachmann days; but it’s still Wheaton. Still made well over my table fee and worth the trip.

So the GP15-1 fleet goes forward with more new repainted custom units with the full light package this time…Classification lights; Truck lights; and Front/Rear headlights with the Dimming features I have long sought. Soundtraxx makes that easy for me…as I am still also a Digitrax user. The entire Digitrax system was upgraded in 2020 when I was still working…to the latest equipment and now I can download new firmware updates right to the throttle and command station when released. The DT602D throttle is very intuitive and easy to use. I am getting comfortable with it now; and am actively programming with it.

I plan to make some new videos for my Youtube page of operations as I start laying track and get some trains up and running. It’s finally time to get going on the layout and build a few more engines to run. I am enjoying the hobby more than ever at this time. I will resume putting these blog entries out on the first of the month now that things are starting to smooth out for us here.

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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.