The Pot Belly Stove
The Model Railroad Club
Welcome to the club. Some might say that model railroaders are just over-grown kids. That's me all right! Some might say that model railroaders are hopeless addicts who waste precious time and money on "playing trains". Me, again! So now that we're out of denial, lets get this meeting started:
Hello, I'm Jim, ...and I'm a model railroader.
"The actual stove from the station at Summit"
The Grand Funk Lines!
We are VERY lucky to have our friendship with the owners of the GFL, Michael and Hope Lewitzke! These two have created a railroad experience in their basement that defies description, although I keep trying. We have put some photos and art we have collected on our project with them on line in the hope that we can convey some small part of the GFL experience to you. You will find some photos in the Christmas album we created for them after our first visit to the GFL last December. We have been working on an article about this amazing pike, you can read a rough draft here. We have also been preparing for an eventual website, and some of the graphics are posted here , and here. Since we are in California and they are in Wisconsin, the internet and email have been a major source of contact... of course we just HAVE to telephone every once in a while:). They have visited here, too. We are perhaps most grateful to have the kinship of someone who is predisposed to scale sound. It is refreshing to NOT have to defend an investment of time and money in this all so important image.
The sound design for the GFL is nothing short of extraordinary, it has to be. Customized and dedicated soundtracks and systems have been created to convey the unique visual presentation of this pike. Because you are always standing IN the scene WITH the railroad, we had to create full scale aural images that were tied into the scale sound within the layout. This too, is a completely unique approach! I have links to some of the suggested designs, just to give you some idea of what we are doing in this approach. There will be some twenty plus discreet stereo CD driven scale sound systems hidden along 'The Serpent's Tongue Route' before we are finished. We will post some articles here on line about some of the personalized sound designs we have created, and are crating for this wonderful model railroad experience... as we get to them.
But for now, just know that you are in on the beginnings of one of the coolest layouts, ever!
Custom Sound for everyone!
Seems like the site suffers when good things are happening on other fronts, but some of those good things are also for the site! For instance, Scale Magic Sound has gone through a bit of a transformation. We wanted to sell Scale Magic Sound as a R-T-R kit, and we are, sort of. As it turns out, every one of the kits we have sold so far have involved some custom design.
Since that is the way it is going, that is the way we're going with it. In addition to our R-T-R kits, we are offering complete custom design and installation services as well. Yes, we will come to your layout and install sound into it... for a fee:) We are calling this new service 'rail roadies'! You may contact us about this at:
Bragdon Enterprises and Scale Magic Sound, in joint venture!
In a related item, we have made friends with one of the other sponsors of the Athabasca Linear Layout; Bargdon Enterprises. As you may know, we have been proponents of poly foam scenery techniques for twenty years. Joel and Jenny Bragdon in Georgetown, California have really gotten this medium down to an art, and a science! We immediately struck up a friendship when we discovered these fellow 'foam heads', and are already working with them to install Scale Magic Sound into their beautiful waterfall display. But even more exciting is the work we are doing to create 'Talking Rocks', a new product that combines Scale Magic Sound and Bargdon rock castings. Yes, sometime in the not too distant future (when we get the technique perfected) we will be introducing a line of completely invisible sound system speaker components that will be easy to install and conceal (well, they will already be concealed:). This is a technique that we have been using on our larger scale IDH railroad for years. But now, with Bragdon's excellent and highly detailed castings and poly foam techniques, we can offer this very trick way of hiding speakers to the smaller scales as well. We'll keep you posted as to how this is going...
You can see Bragdon's terrific scenic products, and read tutorials on how fast and simple they are to use at their website:
I actually am listening to "The Magic Summit" in scale, as I write this. You've never heard anything like this before. Quite literally, there has never BEEN anything like this before. No one has ever offered model railroaders a dedicated scale soundtrack and sound system in a ready to run package before... ask around! We honestly believe that this is the single most important step that we will take in our trek to popularize "the other image", the aural image.
Regulars to the pot belly stove know about some of the events in the past year or two that have brought our scale sound odyssey to a place where we could finally hand you the other image on a silver platter. Our association with The Athabasca System, Granite Canyon Division, and Clayton Barry in particular, have been instrumental! Clayton's understanding of the importance of sound to a truly stunning design, his enthusiasm about bringing scale sound to model railroading, and his unwavering confidence in our ability to make all this work, have been nothing short of amazing and inspirational. We are indeed grateful to the GCD for providing us with the challenge (and the testing grounds!) necessary to bring our work of the past few years into focus.
In the upcoming year we will be slowly introducing Scale Magic Sound to the rest of the model railroading world, but for now you can only find it here. Also in the coming months, I will be discussing some of the secrets to the illusions of scale sound here, and to an extent, elsewhere around the magic site. But since you have found your way here, you will find most of the 'real magic' right here in the hot air around the pot belly stove... I can't give away all the secrets, but I can tell you some of them... check back in a week or two.
Scale Magic Sound at the National Train Show!
After much lobbying from Clayton Barry and Ken Lass, we have decided to take a booth at the NMRA 'Twentieth Century Limited' National Train Show in San Jose, in the beginning of August. We are building a nifty 'working' display for the booth (the entire IDH is not yet ready), and we will have plenty of Scale Magic Sound for you to audition, live and in person:) We will be in booth number 415 (right up the isle from the Athabasca Linear Layout display), so if you are going to be at the show, please stop by and say 'hey' at us!
The Athabasca System Granite Canyon Division linear layout won top honors ('Best of Show') at the 2000 NMRA National Train show in San Jose! (The judging was based solely on our sound and had nothing to do with the amazing modeling talents of Clayton Barry, Bill Camp, John Roos, Ken Lass, or the rest of the incredible Athabasca team: ). The best part about the whole thing was the experience of being a member of a of dedicated and motivated team, and watching the project evolve for all the right reasons. We all thought it would be fun and a good idea, that's why we got involved. But each of us has benefited from our experience in so many other ways that we could have never expected. The honor of winning a prestigious award was just the icing on the cake. If you want to read more about the sound design for this amazing pike, click here. John Roos took some great pictures of the Linear Layout, here is one of my favorites:
Christie took some great close up shots, I'll post them soon. Here is a photo of Clayton Barry (the conductor@athabasca, he does look happy:) directing the Granite Canyon Symphony Orchestra:
Early on Clayton said that he felt most N scalers shared a common feeling about their tiny scale (and its 'not a serious scale' image within The Hobby):
"We just want to prove that it CAN be done!"
Clayton proved IT CAN, to everyone (especially to those of us privileged to work on the project)! Perhaps more importantly, he will realize at some point, that he has proven that to himself! You deserve it and you earned it, buddy! Congratulations...
Great response, but...
Some of you have mentioned that you want a way to avoid downloading sound files! I understand, downloading and making cassettes is time consuming... but so is every other aspect of model railroading. We DO offer ready to run sound:). We are tickled and encouraged that there is so much interest in sound, and have spent much of our time making faster loading sound available on line. Please be patient, and try to remember that although it is time consuming to download sound files, they ARE FREE, and will remain free at the Magic site! You can start playing and experimenting right now!
Hope you all will "hang in there"...
Building this site is like building a model railroad layout, it is a lot more work than you think it will be at first! Your encouragement really helps, REALLY! What you may not know is that just watching the number of visitors increase each day is inspirational in itself.
Now, lets get some feedback from some of you who are actually using the site information. I especially want to hear from those who have built upon the basic info in our articles! Or, at least, I would like to see some suggestions for the direction in which you would like to see the site progress! Feel free to speak your mind...