Sunday, November 21, 2010

Railroad Signal Lamps

To say the least, my daytime job is often "a bit different" from what most people experience in their lifetimes. Here's one reason why:

My company makes electronic signal equipment for the railroad industry. Quite a number of years ago my bosses decided to shoehorn some of our equipment into a Garden "G" Gauge model train so that they could demonstrate its operation on a moving (albeit small) train at trade shows. Over the years the train display has grown in size and complexity. The latest iteration measures 10 feet by 30 feet and has a bit more than 80 feet of track in sort of a "flattened dog bone" shape. The rear edge alone has 2 mainlines and 2 sidings, each more than 15 feet long!

Over the past few weeks it has actually been my job, if you can call it that, to spend my time cutting and fastening the track with foam rubber track bed on the new display. Yeah, I know. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it!

The display is pretty much devoid of any scenery except for a couple pieces of wayside equipment, e.g., the signal lamps. The longer I worked on the track and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that the signal lamps that we have used for years just didn't quite measure up to the standards of the new display, so I decided to make some replacements. The picture shows one of the four new signal lamps that I built.

I am sure that there are those who would slavishly conform to the required scale to ensure authenticity in all model train projects. I realized early on that, although all 4 of our trains are all considered "G" gauge trains, none of them were built to exactly the same scale. So, no matter what scale I chose, it wouldn't be quite right. Instead, I just sort of "eyeballed" the scale and made the signal lamps about 7 inches tall or about even with the average cab roof.

Originally, I had planned to blather on here with a blow by blow description of how I put it together on the off chance that someone might want to actually duplicate them. After a sobering evening's reflection I realized that anyone who was that interested could just look at my annotated photo and glean everything they need to know to duplicate what I did. If you want more info than that, just drop me an e-mail. I can probably tell you much more that you will want to listen to.:-)

The display will debut in September in Minneapolis (?) and then be disassembled and rushed to another show in New Orleans (?) just a week or two later. Now, on to the wiring...

One from the Bench:

Don't let your victories go to your head, or your failures go to your heart.

'Til next time...Keep makin' chips!

The Loaves and the Fishes

I mentioned a posting or so ago that I started and was working on a spoon with the theme of The Loaves and the Fishes? while I was participating in the recent Christmas craft show. One of the two women who had the table immediately to my left showed a considerable amount of interest in my progress as the two days went by. As we were packing up she asked if I would keep her informed as to my progress because she thought that it would make the *perfect gift* for (name withheld). I gave her my card and suggested that she call me in a week or so and I would be able to give her a progress update.

I finished carving the spoon a day or so later, sanded it and gave it the first coat of finish but then it sort of languished because I got involved with another project which will be the subject of my next posting. I was jolted back to reality when the woman called early this past week -- as she said she would -- to ask when it would be completed. With Thanksgiving on the horizon and the Grandkids coming into town, I wasn't sure that I would be able to deliver it until after this coming weekend. I did, however, assure her that I would have it done in plenty of time for Christmas.

As it turns out, the intervening project wrapped up more quickly than I expected so I was able to quickly get back to the spoon. I completed it today. So, here it is: The Loaves and Fishes Spoon.

One for the Bench:

Knowledge talks, wisdom listens....I'm doing all of the talking here...hmmmm...I'm not sure what that says about me :-)

'Til next time...Keep makin' chips!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The (mis) Use of English Today

The following is an editorial comment from the management of Carvin' Tom Woodcarving Blog.  Those easily offended should avert their eyes from the screen...So, are the eyes of everyone who doesn't want to see what I have to say averted???  OK, here goes...

I guess I'm just getting old and crotchety, but these days I am just aghast at how otherwise intelligent people cannot seem to assemble a sentence that says what they really mean to say, for example:
During the news broadcast this morning I heard the (I'm assuming well-intentioned) announcer (who you would think had some mastery of the English language) say, 
"It's Veteran's Day and there will be ceremonies honoring those veterans who lost their lives in cemeteries throughout the land." does that mean that if those veterans had just had the sense to not wander into a cemetery they would be alive today? Or did he really mean to say, 
"It's Veteran's Day and in cemeteries throughout the land there will be ceremonies honoring those veterans who lost their lives."
You'd think, particularly considering the intended message, that he could have gotten it right.
To all of my fellow Veterans, "Thanks, for a job well done!"
           I'm feeling much better now...

'Til next time...Keep makin' chips -- and correcting deficient English

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Craft Show is over...

The show went very well. A long evening on Friday and a good day on Saturday. I understand that upwards of 1000 people filed through to see what was for sale. Not bad! I could have sold more but I'm happy with what did go. 

At first I was concerned that I had too high a price on the Birdhouse Christmas Ornament but felt better about it when I saw that people were actually buying them in pairs. So at least for some folks the price was right. I'm guessing too that there were a lot of pairs of Grandkids out there that will be getting Ornaments as part of their Christmas. 

I haven't yet decided whether to do it again next year. It seems that I spent a lot of time this year making stuff for the show and not enough "just for fun". I'll have to think on that some while I carve.

I was working on a new design as I sat there. A spoon with a "Loaves and Fishes" theme to the handle. I wish that I had a couple of them because people really seemed to find them interesting. The spoon is almost done -- I'm sanding and have put the first coat of finish on it. I'll post it as soon as I'm done.  

One from the Bench:  

         You're never too old to learn something stupid! 
'Til next time...keep makin' Chips!