Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote

Just to be clear, this won’t be morphing into a tech blog. However, when I find something outside the sphere of the content presented here that can greatly enhance, improve, streamline, etc., what I do related to prototype modeling, I want to share it. Such is the case with the Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote.

I speak at about 6-10 prototype meets per year. At each meet, I usually present the subject twice and in some cases, I present talks on two different topics. That means I am presenting about 20-25 times per year.

What is presented at RPMs is typically photo intensive, meaning that the presentation itself is anchored by photos, with supporting text and, of course, much talking about the subject. I, along with most of the presenters at RPMs, use some form of pointer, usually red or green dot laser type. They can sometimes be glitchy, working intermittently, and even the steadiest of us impart some shake or wobble. Additionally, some of us have a form of remote means to advance the slides. It seems like we have (had) things pretty well covered.

Sometimes the best solutions to problems are the ones we have not even considered. That is exactly the sweet spot of the Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote. For me, it addresses three things, although it does a lot more (and you can find out what by visiting the Logitech site). The three things are:




Advances slides – it’s a presentation remote; if it didn’t do that, there would be problems!



“Shines” a “Spotlight” on a specific portion of the current slide, all in a steady, clear means. The diameter of the spotlight is adjustable. It makes it easy to show exactly what detail you are referring to when you’re talking about that thingy on the car, locomotive, etc.


Magnifies a circular portion of the current slide. Like the spotlight, the magnifier circle size is adjustable. This allows you to not only focus on a specific area, but to magnify it so that details are more readily discernible.


It does all of this with three buttons. Another prominently advertised feature is the timer, which vibrates the remote at times (preset by you) to let you know when you have ‘x’ number of minutes left in your presentation.

The price is in the $125 range, although refurbished units are in the $70-80 range (mine is a refurb). It’s a bit pricy, I guess, but for what many of us present at RPMs, it can greatly enhance the material being presented.


It charges via USB and the charge lasts three (3) months. It can be used via Bluetooth or via a USB receiver (included). It does require download of a small software install to customize its operation. The entire process was simple. Also, you do not need to point the remote at the screen or computer for it to function!

Note: it is not the kind of thing I would recommend borrowing five minutes prior to your presentation. It’s not complicated, but it does require a couple run throughs of a presentation to become familiar with the functions.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if one presents at meets with any degree of regularity.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Modeling the Southern Pacific A-50-17 Part I

Modeling the SP in late 1951 means I would like to have models of the following auto (double door) cars on the roster:

Class (HO scale model)

  • A-50-4 (Speedwitch)
  • A-50-5/6 (Funaro & Camerlengo)
  • A-50-7 (no kit; radial roof version of A-50-6)
  • A-50-9/10/11 (Speedwitch kit coming for A-50-11)
  • A-50-12 (Sunshine)
  • A-50-13 (Sunshine)
  • A-50-14 (Proto 2000 redetail [not really a full-blown kitbash])
  • A-50-15 (kitbash of Branchline)
  • A-50-16 (Sunshine)
  • A-50-17 (Branchline kitbash)



Prototype photo of SP 192866. Note the panels called out as having rectangular corrugations. Fayetteville, North Carolina, July 14, 1952, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

The last class on this list is the subject of this post, Part I of what will be several. The A-50-17 class was built in 1950-1951, car nos. 190000-190499 and 192000-192999. All cars in the 190000-series were equipped with Evans Type F automobile loading racks (a note in SP Freight Cars, Volume 3 from Signature Press indicates that 100 cars mixed in the 192000-series also had auto racks, although the October, 1951 Official Railway Equipment Register does not yet show any cars in the 192000-series with racks.) Interestingly, cars in series 192000-192499 are classified XM "Box, All Steel" while cars in 192500-192999 are classified as XM "Auto, All Steel". The difference is not clear (if there is any difference) and no special loading equipment is noted in the ORER

While Branchline made a rather nice kit for late 1940s and 1950s 50' auto cars, the SP's A-50-17 incorporated details not covered by the Branchline models. There are two notable differences. The A-50-17 had sides that used "hat-section" structural members, necessitating two rows of rivets (one alternating) where the side sheets overlapped. Additionally, the A-50-17 had four steel sheathing "panels" to the left of the doors and six to the right, fewer than the five and eight of the Branchline models. This will be addressed and described in a separate post.

The other significant difference is that the roof employed was a hybrid of diagonal and rectangular panels. By the time these cars were constructed in late 1950 and early 1951, diagonal panel roof corrugations had superseded rectangular corrugations. However, in this instance, two panels near each end of the car used rectangular corrugations to accommodate automobile loading racks on cars so equipped (all cars had the "hybrid" roofs, regardless of whether equipped with racks). 


To replicate this unusual roof, I decided to marry pieces from a Branchline 50' diagonal panel roof and a Branchline 40' rectangular panel roof. The edges of the underside of the center portions of Branchline roofs do not have any "depth" like the ends do.  If not filled, this lack of depth would adversely affect the cuts with the razor saw, as well as efforts to square the cuts with a Northwest Shortline True Sander. I added strip styrene to fill in these areas (0.040" x 0.040" on the rectangular panel roof and 0.030" x 0.040" on the diagonal panel roof - white strips in the photo below). After sawing, the pieces were spliced together as shown here. I used a razor saw and mitre box to make the cuts, leaving excess material to be sanded using a Northwest Shortline True Sander. My goal was to reassemble the pieces using the "center" of the roof seam caps as the mating line, creating relatively easy joints to sand clean (the photo shown here is prior to sanding the seam caps.) 


Once I had the pieces glued together, but while the joints were still "soft" from the MEK, I placed the roof into the car body, with light pressure applied with rubber bands. This ensured that the parts would be in fairly good alignment and flat as the joints dried and hardened.


I am pleased with the results. I will have copies made for offer at some future time (along with decals for the A-50-12 through A-50-17 classes of SP auto cars).

Know of another prototype that used this roof? Please leave a comment below...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Springfield Purchase

It's been way too long since I posted anything. I endeavor to rectify that over the coming weeks. In that spirit, I thought I would share my main purchase from Springfield (I tend to not buy much anymore... I just don't find a need to purchase many things). Back to my purchase. Almost two years ago, Tony Thompson had a post on his blog about a load created from a Euclid scraper. I thought it looked like a great load. I meandered over to ebay and fruitlessly sought to find a similar vehicle. Not one to throw up the white flag, I saved the search term and hoped something would appear.

My efforts were finally rewarded about a month ago when my ebay search yielded an amazing find! Like a true slacker, I dithered. Then at Springfield (the Amherst Railway Society show), I actually found what I was seeking.

I plunked down $45.00 at the Don Mills Models table and came home with what you see here. The detail is quite fine and the castings are generally good. I will be showing my progress here, including mounting it on a flat car as a load. Stay tuned!

P.S. the ebay Buy it Now listing was still active at the time of this posting and Don Mills certainly has more.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Interesting contrast in tank car photos


I check the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library flickr site at least once per week to see if anything new has been posted. I recently noticed two photos that I thought provide a nice contrast. The first photo, of Mexican Petroleum (MPLX) 356 is an American Car & Foundry Type 17 10,000 gallon tank car, built in January, 1919. It incorporated the details typical of the AC&F Type 17, notably the underframe. The other important details for a Type 17 include the double rows of 'staggered' rivets where the radially oriented tank sheets over and underlap each other and the tank relief valves mounted on an 'elbow' attached to the side of the expansion dome.


Kanotex Refining (KOTX) 8108 presents an interesting contrast. While built in December, 1918, one month prior to MPLX 356 shown above, it has a 'modern' tank with longitudinally oriented tank sheets. It is also unusual in that most cars with longitudinally oriented tank sheets had tank relief valves mounted on top of the expansion dome, adjacent to the manway.



Lastly, I include a third photo to provide a counterpoint to complete the story. From March, 1920 is Transcontinental Oil (Marathon) TROX 1511, which displayed the 'complete' transition to a 'modern' car with longitudinally oriented tank sheets, relief valves on top of the expansion dome, and a safety manway. There are examples of AC&F tank cars with this arrangement of details from as early as 1919, including White Oil (WHOX) 1185, but that car had a white tank, making viewing of the details in the photo significantly more difficult.

Consider making a donation to the Barriger to support their efforts to share these wonderful photos via their flickr site.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Updated Kitbash clinic from Chicagoland RPM


The file for the clinic, "Finding Kitbashing Opportunities in Freight Cars," as presented at the Chicagoland RPM, 26-28 October 2017, has been posted. It may be accessed via the link.

On a separate, related note, the Chicagoland RPM is in full rebound. Last year's event was a great success, although the crowds were down after a couple years of drifting. However, the enthusiasm generated by Mike Skibbe and his crew was palpable. This year's event was equally as good and the jump in crowd size definitely reflected the buzz generated by the 2016 conference. This event is well on its way to the prominence that it had during the heyday of the 1990s. Congratulations to Mike and his team! I am looking forward to 2018. The RPM calendar is chock full of good venues to scratch the prototype itch.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Images from PRM Vol. Four

Cover photo of Jim Dufour's layout of the Cheshire Branch of the Boston & Maine
I know that not everyone out there will buy a copy of Prototype Railroad Modeling Volume Four. However, I am sure that many people out there appreciate seeing photos of finished models, so I am sharing some of the photos of the work that is included in the articles that either profile how to make these models or in the case of Jim Dufour's layout, his overall attention to detail and accuracy. Enjoy.


B&O M-15K as kitbashed by George Toman

Two kitbashed PFE R-40-14 reefers from Athearn and Intermountain models

NYC Lots 693-B end door box car and 742-B box car, as kitbashed


AAR 50-ton flat cars from, back to front, Pittsburgh Scale Models, WestRail, and Proto 2000
The Tichy flat car detailed as an NC&StL FM9

Monday, July 31, 2017

"Fixture" on CNW/CMO AAR Recommended Practice Gondolas

Jim Gerstley Collection
Yesterday, I posted a question to the Steam Era Freight Cars list (STMFC) on Yahoo! Groups in the hopes that someone could identify a detail on the CNW/CMO AAR Recommended Practice Gondolas built between 1945 and 1956. Here is the query:
If one looks at photos of the CNW/CMO AAR recommended practice and related "11-panel" gondolas of 1945-1956, there is a distinctive detail at the lower right corner of the far left panel (adjacent to the left end). It appears to be a casting of some sort. In looking at my photos, I cannot identify it or its purpose. Since it is on both sides of the car, it is unlikely a defect card holder, as these were usually only on one side of the car. Does anyone know what this detail is? 
It can be seen in the articles on these cars by Jeff Koeller in Mainline Modeler, May and June, 2005. 
The Sunshine kits do not duplicate this feature.
Page 42 from May 2005 Mainline Modeler

I received a few requests for photos or at least to be pointed to photos. To that end, I have created this blog post. Click on any of these images to view a larger version. The two-part article by Jeff Koeller is excellent and I recommend adding it to your library if you do not already have it.
Detail of CMO 88173 from page 42 of May 2005 MM.
CMO 88173 has its defect card holder (a different type of defect card holder) mounted in the same location as CNW 70351 shown above.

Can anyone identify this detail? It almost looks like one of those beer bottle openers mounted to the face of a bar... just sayin'