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State of the Site - April 2024


  • State of the Site - April 2024

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500613.jpg Views:	0 Size:	175.5 KB ID:	2301398 A week ago, I was wondering "what in the heck can I write about this month?"...

    Taxes? Too depressing....

    UFL Football? I'd probably have to explain it to too many of you.

    The upcoming NFL Draft?

    Waiting a few days turned out to be good strategy, because a bunch of stuff hit over the course of a couple days, and it was all worth writing about.

    So without further procrastination, let's get to it....

    Whether it's music, movies or railroads, I'm a huge fan of the 1980's. And over the last two weeks, our friends at managed to surprise us with not one, but two releases about a week or so apart which fall into that late 70's/early 80's timeframe. We've had a few previous releases from that timeframe, namely the Soo, Milwaukee, Rock Island and Chessie sets.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	RunActivity 2024-04-12 15-47-33-58.jpg Views:	0 Size:	242.1 KB ID:	2301408 First up for the new releases was a Western Pacific Train Pack, which includes some very nicely done GP40's and over 30 freight cars. A few days later, fans of New England railroading got their due... a 70's/80's New England Boxcar Set covering the B&A, Maine Central, Central Vermont, B&M, and a few short lines from that upper right hand corner of the country. There's even a Guilford car, which some might see as a positive or a negative...

    Because freight cars are known to roam far and wide, both of these sets will be right at home on just about any North American route set in or after that timeframe. They really do capture the end of the box car age. A few years later, RailBox had pretty much taken over, and erased a lot of the variety you'd see off home rails.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	RunActivity 2024-04-18 22-20-21-66.jpg Views:	0 Size:	254.4 KB ID:	2301405 Of interest to me... the WP set includes a bunch of period appropriate trailers on flat cars, which is a huge plus to me. My personal modeling projects are mostly set in that late 70's/early 80's timeframe, and having timeframe appropriate rolling stock has always been a bit problematic up until now.​ Thanks to this set, I've now got a CNW Falcon service out of the box.

    Keeping with a theme from some other recent sets from TrainSimulations, the WP pack also includes a commemorative locomotive -- 1776 celebrating the US's bicentennial from 1976.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	RunActivity 2024-04-12 15-31-17-97.jpg Views:	0 Size:	235.4 KB ID:	2301407 Anyone under 50 probably won't remember the US Bicentennial. I'm sure some of our friends from England are laughing at the notion of celebrating 200 years while they've been around for between 1000 and 1500 years depending on whose version of history you subcribe to, but here in the US, it was a pretty big deal.... Just about every railroad had a commemorative unit or two, and I remember even our town's water tower getting a special paint job (which stayed up until perhaps 1980?...). Buried somewhere in the basement, I know I've still got a Mason jar filled with bi-centennial quarters, and I know I've got some mint quality two dollar bills somewhere as well (which were brought back..... in 1976).

    And before we know it, we'll be having the 250th commemoration, or Semiquincentennial in 2026. It'll be interesting to see how the railroads do it this time around.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500632.jpg Views:	10 Size:	90.9 KB ID:	2301402 Last week, a new feature was also released on our website.... Up on the top menu bar, there's now a "Store" link, which was soft-launched on Tax Day. This is something I've hoped to launch since upgrading the site last summer, and is now up and running for real.

    The first product on the shelves... the Feather River Route from 3DTrains, which I'd written about over a week ago. Thanks again to Melanie for making it available, and for letting our storefront be the point of sale.

    Having managed selling my own content at using OpenCart, and previously using Sellfy and Gumroad, I know firsthand that it can be a pain to set up and administer a dedicated site for the relatively low volume of sales hobby items carry.

    The monthly expenses for payment processing and commissions back to the selling site can quickly eat into what little you might earn.

    That's part of why a few mainstays like 3DTrains and Diesels West closed down their dedicated storefronts. The repercussions of that are that folks newer to the community are left without a way to purchase and enjoy some of that classic content we've come to love.

    To clarify, as there has been some confusion.... items in our store are not included as part of our paid membership, nor do they require membership in order for you to purchase and download. Purchased downloads will also transfer at broadband speeds, and not be subject to quotas.

    These "available for purchase" items will catalogued in our File Library alongside our other items, which will help people find these while doing file searches. There will also be dedicated product pages provided within the Store, and dedicated subforums are available for support purposes. All downloads will be managed thru the same back-end systems used to handle memberships here, and if desired, unique keycodes that work with your installer can be generated to help ensure only licensed users are installing your products.

    If you're a provider or even a custodian of someone else's payware, and looking for a way to make it available again without having to worry about the distribution overhead, PM me and we can discuss the options available.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	avatar57045_2.jpg Views:	0 Size:	6.9 KB ID:	2301403 A few weeks back, I received confirmation of something many of us have suspected for a while... the passing of Bob Wirth, on February 8, 2020.

    Railroads weren't just a hobby for either Bob or his wife Millie, as both worked for the Santa Fe. Bob was in a variety of roles including Accounting and Finance, and retired from the railroad as Director of Systems Development. One of his bigger accomplishments at ATSF was completing the merge for all of the IT systems needed to support the SPSF merger on day one. Turns out that paint wasn't the only thing done prematurely and for naught...

    In retirement, Bob continued to show his love for all things Santa Fe. He completed 17 routes which are in the file library, covering just about the entire ATSF mainline from Chicago to Barstow, CA, plus the Joint Line from Pueblo to Denver, as well as the Phoenix and Grand Canyon subs north and south from Williams, AZ. He also found time to complete DRGW's Tennessee Pass and the White Pass & Yukon.... From the time he joined the forums, Bob averaged one route a year. While some of his routes may appear to be a bit sparse on the trackside scenery, the trackwork itself is impeccable, and all done from track charts. I'm pretty certain he will continue to hold the record for the number of completed routes for quite some time.

    Godspeed and green signals ahead, Bob...

    As always, thanks for making our community a part of your day, week, or month. We're glad you're here.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by eric; 04-25-2024, 12:51 AM.

    • SD40-2
      SD40-2 commented
      Editing a comment
      May Bob Wirth rest in piece and enjoy Warbonnets all day. He was a good route builder, even if his scenery wasn't the best.

    • amtrak115
      amtrak115 commented
      Editing a comment
      To Bob Wirth's family, My Condolences. Bob's routes were the inspiration of my 1995 Amtrak's Southwest Chief activity from Chicago to Los Angeles. I used all of Bob's routes along that path to create a 10 segment recreation of that passenger route. His routes may not have been the most populated, but they provided the trackage and inspiration for recreation of several activities.
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