This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 12X9 room with two levels. The upper level is complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region with Makin Tracks.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: virginiamidlandshops@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Video: Installing working signals on your layout

I've had a few emails over the last year asking me about my working signals on the layout.  Well, the last email from Philip H. got me motivated tot do a how-to-video.  I get turned off with the block detection and JMRI concept of controlling the signals.  Lots of work to get it to operate and expensive components.  I've added toggles on my fascia to control the signals on the layout.  Adds another component to running trains!  Let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

200th Post on the Blog!

This is my 200th post on the blog and one I've been looking forward to for a long time.  At this posting, I have had 93,000 plus visits to my blog.  Last month, I had my busiest month, with over 4700 views.  This shattered my record of this past July of 3800 plus.  Must have been the blizzard of 2016?  Thanks to all who have visited and I look forward to the return visits.  Thanks for all the emails and comments because if it was not for you guys, this post would not be possible!

My first post was back in December 10th 2010: First Post to the Blog

Most popular posts:
#1 1648 views:  From July 22nd 2014:
 Bench work on extension is almost done and bigger horsepower
This was about my extension for my aggregate loader.  Also had some new horsepower for the Virginia Midland

#2 1013 views: From November 22nd 2012: Industry tour on the VMID Part I
This was a start of a tour on the industries on the layout.  This covered Klotz industries.  Don't know if I ever finished.  I redid this this past December with a video series.

#3 717 views: From December 30th 2011: The On30 Layout
At one time this blog covered 2 railroads.  I had a On30 layout on the lower level at one time.  Really loved it and it was the number one blog post for a long time.  There are several posts about the On30 layout on here.

#4 598 views: From January 13th 2014:
Scenery Update, USPS frustration and a sketch of the lower level trackage
Scenery in battlefield Yard and USPS madness.  Also the beginnings of the lower level.

#5 421 views: From August 17th 2011:
Detailing late RF&P GP40's and GP40-2's Part I
Detailing RF&P Geeps.  There was a second part to this also: Detailing RF&P Geeps Part 2

Thursday, February 18, 2016

TBT: Feb 18th 2016

Here a short flashback to the Winchester and Western short line railroad that's in the northwest part of Virginia.  Good short line power and a slug with a cab!

#709 with a boo-boo.  It will become a chopped hood when it's repaired.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Time spent on building the layout: You'll be surprised!

Read an article the other day on the time it takes to build a layout.  I cannot remember just where I read it but it was probably on a blog somewhere.  It talked about the time it takes to build a layout. It had a lot of great points but I wanted to put my touch on it so here it is!  Now of course we know that layouts come in all shapes and sizes.  A basement empire is going to take longer than say my small room sized layout.  I have broken down the different stages into percents of time spent on each.  So lets go through a build and see where most of your time is spent.  Let's start from the beginning:

Planning:  Most of us are always planning and if you are like me, your even planning after you think all your track work is done.  Starting on a new layout, most know what railroad they want to model and finding that space is always the hardest part.  Once you find that room or basement, the planning is in full gear.  The internet provides more info on specifics than we could ever imagine.

Benchwork:  This is usually a quick weekend or two.  Once you know your space and what you want to do, it's time to hit your Home Depot or Lowe's.  Lumber is not cheap these days but is a necessary thing to support our empire.  You will be making several trips here over the years so get used to it.  I love to go to my local Home Depot!

Track work and Electrical:  This is the most important step in the whole process.  Good track work and electrical wiring will save you lots of time in the end.  Try to only wire the track and maybe signals. Electrical turnouts can be hand thrown so this could save you time especially if you have a bunch of turnouts.  Labeling/color coding your wires will definitely help if you have problems later on.

This is the point where a lot of layouts stop.  Because of the simple fact that you can run your trains and that was most of what we wanted to accomplish.  Scenery and build structures are difficult and most have never attempted them.  Maybe the structures.  We tend to keep adding locos and freight cars instead of the obvious.  So the first three categories are complete and we are up to only 35%!

Structures:  These are the life blood of our railroads yet a lot of time can be spent on these.  A lot of modelers even have someone else build them for them because so much time can be spent on them. Mike Confalone is one of these and we see how great his railroad is.  Walther's kits can save time but your layout should not look like the Walther's catalog.  I'm even guilty to a certain degree. I think 80% of us modelers have the Walther's grain elevator. I plan on one day going back and changing that elevator a bit.  It's a good stand in now.   Slight changes to these types of kits or scratch building is a great way to make your railroad look unique.

Scenery: This is the one everyone likes to avoid.  We are all scared we will mess it up.  That's part of life!  When I first started doing scenery, I thought of it as making a pizza. Start at the dough (base) add glue (sauce) and add toppings!  I've noticed my scenery gets better the more I do it.  Scenery Express items are recommended over Woodland Scenics.  I have used both, but SE just looks better!

Weathering:  This category is a lot like scenery, people are terrified of it.  We don't want to mess up a $30 freight car or a $200 locomotive.  This is a must for any realistic layout.  For me, nothing is worse than seeing a beautiful layout complete with shiny freight cars and locomotives   Even a quick shot of Dullcote is better than nothing.  Don't forget to weather the structures too!

In closing, we can see that most of your time will be taken up on scenery and building the structures. I'm at that point now on my layout.  I have several structures to build on my layout including a new grain elevator (Walthers no less!), a depot, country store and farmhouse.  I could have been done on my layout a couple of years ago but I decided to add my lower level.  So this whole process started over.  Hope I helped you put your time into perspective and remember every minute counts and I didn't even count distractions!  That's another topic for another day!  Happy Modeling!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Orange decisions

The town of Orange on the end of the lower level is a tough nut to crack.  The area is in a T shape and that is not ideal for a whole lot.  I believe I have the track plan down and have finally started to figure out what I want to do with the left side.  The town has a tie loading spur, and the two tracks on the left that was going to be the interchange tracks with Norfolk Southern.  Instead of the interchange I have decided to add another industry to the tracks.  I decided to go with a small grain elevator.  Here is the small elevator.    This will be a perfect add to the rural town of Orange.  The interchange will then be moved to a hinged cassette or a removable cassette.

Here is the town of Orange.  The trains come from the center part of completed part.

On the right were the interchange tracks with this mocked up scene, now they will become a storage and grain elevator track

Now ready for a new industry.

The other side with have the tie loading spur with the town in the back ground.  The background building here will be be there.  The straight track will be the interchange track with some type of cassette for the rest of the track.

VMID #299 GP40 leads a train into Orange.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

TBT: February 11th 2016

Haven't done this in a while so here goes:
One of my favorite spots  to railfan back in the day was down in Richmond, VA at the south end of Acca yard.  It was a great spot and very busy.  I loved the closeness to the action and the rare cars I would see.  These are from July 2007.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

4th and final part of the layout tour video

Here is the last part of the Virginia Midland layout tour.  In this 4th part, we take a look at the Mine run Branch and the town of Orange.  Make sure you subscribe to stay up-to-date with new videos coming out every couple of weeks.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting back in the saddle with modeling

This past week has been a blessing in disguise.  We had around 2 feet of snow last weekend which gave me even more time to rest up before going back to work this past Friday.  I also spent lots of time in the layout room catching up on things and starting new projects.  I still have to take it easy and of course I didn't have to shovel all that damn snow.  My wife and my oldest son took care of that.  My neighbor even plowed out our driveway.  With all that going on, I retreated to the the train room and got back into my comfort zone.

Here are some of the things I started last week:

Valiances:  These have been done since Christmas and just about complete.

This area is done.

Middle area

Got some weathering done for a good friend of mine.

Really liked the look of this hopper.  Made me get 2 more of the 5161's out.

Here's another project coming up.  My layout is broken down into blocks controlled by the Atlas switches in green on the right.  Plan on adding toggles on the switch layout and opening up that area on the lower level.  

New boxcar for the VMID.  It's a Ex CP paper boxcar made by Sylvan scale.  The resin kit was completely built and only needed paint!  Looks good in VMID green.

Another forgotten project.  Don't know why I stopped, Oh wait, yellow still.  From there she's all down hill.  Yes, the gray paint is way light by I will darken it up with weathering.  Kato shell.