Model Railroad Articles by Robert Bucklew

I started my career as a model railroad author back in the days when Tony Koester and Bill Schaumburg were at Railroad Model Craftsman.  I was friends with NMRA Master Model Railroader (MMR) #70 Ed Costello and we visited the Allegheny Midland in the late 1970s.  Ed was working on an article on his OO scale St Anne Railroad for RMC (May 1979) and I helped Ed and our friend Larry Hanlon with some layout photography.  I was encouraged to develop a story on my operating HO rotary dumper and the article appeared in the RMC December 1979 issue. 

RMC 1979 Rotary Car Dumper

Sept 1980 Radio ThrottleRadio Throttle

             December 1979 RMC pages 85-88                                                          September 1980 RMC pages 84-87

While the dumper article was in the works, I saw Bill Schaumburg at the Princeton NMRA convention and demonstrated my radio throttle in the gym there.  This throttle was based on Don Fiehman's SWAT throttle that appeared as a series in RMC in 1977.  My radio version used the guts from a Mattel toy R/C car to drive the SWAT throttle.

Over the years, I did a number of clinics for MER regional, South Jersey and Susquehanna Divisions of the NMRA and once at the 2006 NMRA National convention in Philadelphia.  Topics have included prototype aggregates, but most centered around my use of the JMRI software and my NCE and RR-Cirkits DCC hardware to bring my Quaker Valley Railroad to life in operating sessions.  Recently I also presented the JMRI topics to the Railroad Prototype Modelers - Valley Forge and the East Coast Santa Fe Modelers groups.

All of this work on articles and clinics completed the requirements for my first NMRA Achievment Program award as Model Railroad Author.  I received that in 2008. 

The model railroad press is changing and I have had two articles published by the on line magazine "Model Railroad Hobbyist".  The first covered the double track gate across the entrance to my layout room.  It has been in service for over 25 years now and was described in the February 2013 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist.

 Aisle Gate Opening

The aisle bridge and scenery swing on a set of three door hinges and the article describes the cam action construction and installation of limit switches to protect the open gate. The nice thing about the online magazine format is the links provided to additional material on my web site and three videos that show the gate in operation and are posted to youtube:

Aisle Gate Operation

Aisle Hinge Side

Aisle Cam action

The second article in "Model Railroad Hobbyist" appeared in the June 2015 issue.  This article describes the creation of virtual signals using JMRI software and the Engine Driver throttles on smart phones and tablets.  Even though there are only 3 signals physically installed on my Quaker Valley RR, JMRI provides an engineer's view of each interlocking complete with signals set by the Dispatcher.  You can link to this article in the June 2015 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist.

 Virtual Signals on the Quaker Valley

The JMRI computer program allows me to superimpose the appropriate signal aspect over a background picture of the control point on the layout.  The signal bridge and pole exist, but JMRI allows me to light them before the physical signal heads are installed.  Again, the online magazine format provides links to two   videos on youtube that show how JMRI can be used:

The first features DCC control of the dumper from the 1979 RMC article

The second shows how the virtual signals are used in an operating session

Page updated May 4, 2019

Bob Bucklew
Quaker Valley Software

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