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California, Up in Smoke

This past month saw California erupt with 20 wildfires. While there was a lot of destruction, there was a lot of great outpouring of goodness. As a volunteer firefighter, I was asked to help protect some of the homes threatened by the fires in and near Santa Rosa. Our engine company from the Pleasant Hill – Goshen Fire District, E521, was there for a week and we met some really great people. I’d like to take a moment and relate some of our encounters with the great citizens of Santa Rosa.

We received a one hour notice to prepare for the trip. In that hour we packed personal gear (clothes, sleeping bags and food supplies to last up to three days in the field), restored wildland fire equipment that had been removed from the engine (Oregon’s fire season had ended about two weeks before with a return of the Fall rains), and coordinate with four other departments in our strike team for departure at midnight. In the haste we managed to miss a few items that we normally pack. This led us to some shopping while we were not on the lines and some interaction with the local community. On our way into the a store, a lady stopped us with a “Thank you for coming to help” and offered us $40 to buy lunch. One item forgotten was a cooler to store ice and cold drinks. Unfortunately the store we stopped at first didn’t have any as it was after the normal picnic season. As we were leaving empty-handed another lady asked what we were looking for. When we told her a cooler and that the store didn’t have any, she asked where we were staying so she could bring us one of hers.

Throughout our stay, people came by the camp with toiletry items, coffee, snacks, clothing, playing cards and massages just to name a few things. Even in the field, one home owners association opened their community center for use as a forward command post. Members sent homemade foods for our enjoyment. They even threw a dinner party for our strike team on an off day. What a delight!

I’ve included some media taken by District Chief Barnhart. As the engineer (driver) it was a little difficult to shoot pics and drive at the same time. The news outlets did a good job of presenting the destruction that took place, so I’m showing some of the support rallied from across the world (including a crew from Australia) to combat the flames. And finally, a big thanks to FF Tanner Smith and DC Matt Barnhart for being a great crew.

DC Barnhart, Myself and FF Smith
Help From Above
Got a little close
Base Camp at Night


Here are some short videos from the deployment.





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Boldly Go Where No Paper Has Gone Before

Sitting around the table with our coffee, we often toss out ideas. And then ask “what if?” This is one of those what ifs. The multi-layered design hides the inner workings of the sliding door, giving your speeder shed functionality and good looks. This won’t fit your loco, but if you have a speeder (I’m building one for my N scale) or a Gandy Dancer, this building will accommodate keeping them out of the weather. The interior, like all of our paper buildings, is fully designed including a workbench for the workmen who service the speeder.

Maybe a moving door on your paper model building is not needed. Maybe your model railroad layout is so big that you won’t even find the speeder shed in your switching yard. The kit allows for those contingencies. If that’s the case, you can put the workbench in another location.


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The Joys of CA and Plastic Wrap

Paper Models of the West
Little Red School House

Have you ever played with Cyanoacrylates? It glues paper, wood, fingers and all the above to everything! Have you ever wondered how to use it and not stick?  I did and found an easy solution – plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap around your cutting board and tape it tightly into tightly position. Then glue as normal with CA and when the glue cures, gently peel it off the plastic. Finish with trimming any excess glue that may be hanging off the model. I found that I could use the same spot about six to eight times before the plastic wrap stretches beyond a usable condition and that the glue did not cure as fast. I prefer the ten second set gel type CA because I am not a fast as I used to be. On the plastic, it was a minute or two before the glue was set enough to remove. Your results may vary.

Happy gluing!

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Attack of the Bugs!

Last week saw both of us (John and I) hit with a strong virus bug. Shut down everything for most of the week. At least I was able to complete the trial build of the Engine Shed before burrowing under the covers.  Some alterations are needed so we can release it to you, but here is a preview.

A bit rough around the edges, but then, so was I.

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Another Week, Another Building

Paper Models for the West
Freight Depot Demo

I spent most of last week refining and testing our Freight Depot. It got pretty late when I was cutting out the openings.

I then jumped into some advanced model building with our Engine House. Steel girder construction, this is not for the beginning modeler! The textures look awesome thanks to John and I think the final model will be a center piece for any railroad layout.