Troy's Blog

My photo
I'm just a typical Dad. I have a good wife of 20+ years and 2 good kids. All 3, at times, contribute to my hair graying or falling out.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to Trains

Enough with the politics, back to the train. I have the base finished. The layout of gray that you see is not actually going to be on the first level. I'm planning on that being the 2nd level. It is only laid out on the first level so I can get an idea of the size that the 2nd base needs to be. It will be the same height as the ledge on the wall. The 2nd level won't be any bigger than the outline of the gray track. This way, the first level isn't too covered and still has some light. The delima I am having is how do I suspend the 2nd level without taking space from the 1st level. Yes, this is rocket science and no, I'm not a rocket scientist. In addition to my lack of engineering skills, I want to do this as inexpensive as I can. This way, I can say to the anti-train people in my house....see, I built this without having to buy (much) lumber........then I'll sneak away to the train store for a celibratory purchase. Because the track itself is fairly light, the only real weight will be the wood on the 2nd base and the engines themselves. I'm thinking of trying a "L". Now imagine this....turn that "L" upside down. The long side will be attached to the original base and the short part of the upside down "L" will then hang out over the first level and support the 2nd level. Of course, the short parts will be different lengths depending on where it sits. At its widest point, each side left and right, is 3 feet. The narrowest is between the 2 loops. I only need about 6 inches there. Now, get this. I'm going to build a trestle between the loops but in order for the trestle to not take up too much space, I want 2 sets of tracks to be able to run under the trestle as well. Now, for those not well versed in train language, below is an example of a trestle. This will be an all winter project. Gotta go plan. And......this project has been temporarily been put on hold while I work on another. Pictures of that to follow.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It ain't that easy

Since we've past our 20th anniversary; my motto has been out with the old. Luckily, Shirley hasn't taken the same stance or I'd be history. But we had some things around here that we've had since before we were married or just after. It was time to do a little updating and house cleaning. Part of that was when we repainted our bedroom - again (my idea, so I can't complain....much) some of the OLD wall hangings weren't going back on the wall. Shirley likes the Live, Love, Laugh thing but couldn't find anything that she really liked. I have another saying I'd like to put on the wall in our bedroom but since I don't have this site marked "adult content", I can't share it here.

At the Fargo Street Fair we ran across this interesting concept. You put just the words on the wall, no picture, no nails, just press and enjoy. Yea.....that easy. So, of course, it sat rolled up in our bedroom for over a month before we decided to put it on the wall. It happened to be the same weekend my parents were there so they got to witness the spectical as well. Abbreviated instructions: Mark where you want the words (currently on a sheet of paper), then lay the sheet on a flat surface and rub the back side with a credit card to "set" the print on the front sheet of paper. Peel the back side off, set the front side against your marked wall and rub the back of that with a credit card. Pull off the back sheet. You are done.

Now - how it actually works. I will leave my parents out since they were innocent by-standers; although I'm sure they found it humorous.

Leave the sheet, that is supposed to be flat, rolled up in a tight tube for over a month. This way it gets the permanent "rolling" effect - perfect for getting something to stay on a flat surface. Hold the rolling sheet up to the wall while your loving spouse decides if it is straight or needs to move left, right, up, or down a hairs width. Mark said rolling sheet so you know where it needs to go. Take rolling sheet out to table and rub with a credit card to set the words on the front sheet. Try to peel off the back sheet, realizing all the words are still sticking to it. Rub with 2 credit cards and witness the same result. Rub with 2 credit cards and your fingernails using the pressure of a steel vice. Slowly roll back the back sheet, stopping frequently to figure out how to keep the stubborn (remember, not marked as adult content - replace "stubborn" with whatever work you'd have used) words on the front sheet. Kink, pull, press, and rub until everything is now on the front sheet that has the texture of fresh fly paper. The good news is that after all that rubbing, the sheet doesn't roll quite as much. Take said fly paper back to room. Now, and this is important, you had better have your shit together and line the fly paper up correctly the first time...oh, wait, did I forget to mention that in step 1 the words were not straight on the sheet. So this means your fly paper has to be at a slight angle so the words will be straight. Like I said, you have one chance to get this right. Slowly press the fly paper onto the wall. At this time the rolling effect comes back and you have air bubbles. Sarcastically say to those in hearing range "Great, this is just f*&^%*#g great". Witness grandparents and children flee to another level of the house. Try to get those bubbles out (ha - G.F.Luck). Once you have it pressed against the wall and the bubbles smoothed out, peel the sheet back ever so slightly, remembering that the simple "credit card rub" may not work. doesn't. Peel fractions of a centimeter back at a time, stopping constantly to reapply, rerub, peel, reapply, rerub. There...phew....done.......with ONE word of the bible length saying. Continue until complete. Step back, hand in hand with your loving spouse who you have now bonded with for over an hour, to enjoy your accomplishment in awe and wonder - as in "aw wonder if the idiot that wrote the instructions has actually ever done one of these.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Well, the democratic convention is over and we'd all agree that Hillary's speech was better than Obama's. Biden came 4th in the speech contest. I didn't hear Bill's but I'm sure it was better than the 3 combined. But Obama is now the man of the hour.

The only problem I'll have deciding my vote for president is if McCain picks Pawlenty as his VP. I do not like McCain but think Pawlenty would be an excellent choice to carry McCain's dead weight.

So if it comes to Obama/Biden and Pawlenty/McCain ......I'm still going for Obama....only pausing for a little to consider Pawlenty (mccain).

Have a good Labor Day weekend everyone !!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


One of the comments on my blog was about me taking 50% of the family room while the rest of the family has to share the other 50% .....or something to that extent, I didn't really pay attention to the ramblings. Here is my defense: Everyone else is the house gets at least one room to themselves. Sean has his own bedroom, Kaitlyn has her own bedroom, not even the bathroom is sacred. The 4 of us could sit and look at each other for hours without saying a word. The minute I get situated in the bathroom....knock, knock, knock...."Dad....." or Shirley THEN needs to get in for who knows what. So the next thing is going to be - Shirley doesn't have a room to herself. Well....what is the laundry room. Her haven away from it all. That is where she goes to relax. So I don't feel one bit guily taking my 25% of the downstairs. The kids also can have the space under the steps. You know, the storage from hell where you have to be a dwarf to crawl in to get the x-mas decorations and the rest of the year you chuck as much crap as you can fit into it.

Another comment was someone writing GW in for a 3rd term. Here is a link that person may find handy:

Keep the comments coming. I'll respond as I get time. Tonight I missed Bill Clinton's speech so will have to try to find it on the Internet. That's OK. I was spending time teaching Sean how to drive. He did a good job. Once we were parked, I felt completely safe again. I honestly don't know how professional driving instructors do it. I'd have to get tanked each morning before work just to take the edge off.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm not into politics

I have never been nor will I ever be into politics. I don't care which party a candidate is on, I vote for the person, not the party. That said...It has been a rough year. First Hillary...Well, maybe I should go back further. In my know, this is my blog so I can get more opinionated...

Bill Clinton was the best president ever. He was always smiling. I guess some of the pictures of him smiling behind the oval office desk have been explained but he has just a friendly disposition. He was the president with the highest approval rating ever. My theory is that if someone can do what he did and come out ahead, then he must be a great leader. So I liked and always will like Bill Clinton. If he were able to run for a 3rd term, he'd have been in the White House for another 4. Back to Hillary. She is the only way Bill was going to get back into the White House. I've always liked both Clintons...but not their ugly buck toothed daughter. So it was a sad sad day in my life when she dropped out of the race for president. About the same time, my favorite restaurant, Bennigans, closed in Fargo. Just a coincidence...I think not.

Anyway, my new hope for getting Bill back into the White House was for Hillary to become VP then worm, oops, I mean work her way up to the president's spot. Well now that isn't going to happen. I do like Obama though. Of course, I'd have liked him more if he'd have stepped down when Hillary was ahead or at least made her the VP.

Back to Obama. I truly think this nation has come a long ways in its battle against sexism and racism. To live in a time when either the first woman or the first black person can become president is remarkable. I'm voting for Obama. In one last attempt to get Bill back into the White House, I found this picture on the Internet....maybe some day a clone.

For those opinionated political types that frequent this web site, know that if you leave a comment against my opinion, it will be vetoed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Base for the train track

Here is the completed frame for the base of my train tracks. Hmmmm.... that takes up a lot of room. We got it assembled, with the help of the entire family, and only one scuff mark on the wall. And that is pretty good considering the boards, from left to right, just fit into the room. Everything came in through the family room window. At the bottom of the 6 legs are large wheels. Just in case I need to move it.

This is how the press board is going to sit on the frame. Ignore the hole in the left corner. That is from another set up. The tape measure is strategically placed where the inside corner of the 2nd level would be. That is still in the early early planning stages. Notice the black bridge along the ledge. Unbelievably, I made that. Honestly, when I got done, I couldn't believe I had built it. My carpentry skils are typically not accurate enough to build something that has to fit together, not to mention something that small of a scale. Sean & Kaitlyn have been out of town for a few days in Bismarck with Shirley's sisters. When they come back, I know they will be impressed!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The beginning of the new layout

This is where my new train layout is going to go. I'm assembling the pieces in the garage and will bring it in for final set up. As with any project I make, no matter how many times I measure, something always goes wrong. I've found one mistake already that is too late to fix. We'll see who can spot it when completed. Shirley wouldn't want you to see the laundry laying around drying so don't look at it. By the way, today is her birthday so we gave her the day off from laundry. That way there will be twice as much tomorrow and she'll feel needed and appreciated.
The yellow tool box is for all my "train" tools. Its pretty empty. There are a couple of storage containers in the background - either visible or covered by laundry. They are completely full of track, trains, and accessories.

I built this table during our staycation. We have a new rustic picture and needed a table to match. Shirley just got a cream can from her parents that fits perfectly on the bottom shelf. Almost as if it were built for it....almost.

This is a closer view to you can see the fine craftsmanship. Orders are being taken at my other website

Monday, August 11, 2008


Well, I've figured out how to get a picture of myself and one of my favorite train pictures posted. All in a day's work.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My first blog

Like I said above, my kids (Sean and Kaitlyn) have their own blog and any pictures of them that I'd post here, they'd object watch for those pictures here - ha. I really don't know what I am going to post here. Probably some family pictures of something interesting we've done or somewhere we've gone. My kids' blog - I really don't know how often they update it because I never look at it. I know, I'm a bad parent but pretty much anything they'd put on there I already know (or not). My sister (Kristi or KJ) has a blog that she updates multiple times a day. My Mom (Mom or Sharon) has one that she updates occasionally, and my brother (Ty or T-Bone) has one - very informative. He should write the family x-mas card this year Ty, do you ever go in there? I think it comes down to how much extra time a person has. Right now I can see my sister rolling her eyes and making a "pffft" noise with her lips, acting like she is offended. If my brother EVER reads this, it will not be because he has the extra time, he has probably just heard that I've written something about my siblings and managed to pull himself away from . My mom reading this will think we shouldn't tease each other so much but knows that will never change. My kids reading this will say "Dad, no one wants to read that and the only person that thinks it is funny is you". I'm laughing as I type this, kids. My wife (Shirley or yes, dear) won't even know I have one until she hears it from someone else or sees it posted on one of the above blogs, excluding Ty's). Then her comments will be 1) when did you do this, 2) why did you do this, & 3) here is a list of other things you could be doing with your time.

Maybe, as the title indicates, I'll include pictures of the new train layout I'm setting up in the family room.

My second blog - The Train

OK, now my kids are saying "Dad, you don't have to tell them which number it is". I know that, I just wanted you to know I knew what you'd say.

The train thing all started YEARS ago. When I was a little kid, we didn't have room for a train set in our house. However, my Grandma and Grandpa D. had one that Ty and I played with for hours.

KJ had come along and used all the extra space. Plus, my parents didn't want to get rid of Ty like I suggessted. By the time we had a bigger (much bigger) house, I was a teenager and into other interests (community service, Save the Forest, PETA, church...just to name a few).

I always figured I'd have kids that would want a train and I could get THEM one. Well, that never happened. Oh, I have the kids...they just didn't ever want a train set. One Christmas about 4 years ago Shirley, Kaitlyn, & Sean gave me a train set. It had an engine and 5 cars counting the caboose. It fit nicely on the dining room table. Eventually, for reasons I still don't understand, I had to move it from the table. I brought a piece of plywood into the family room and set it on there. The plywood was bigger than the table so I needed more track. When I got that set up, I had more track than room so I added onto the original 4X8 sheet of plywood. Do you see a pattern here?

Eventually, one level wasn't enough and the saw horses were too wobbly so I made a table on casters and added a 2nd level....and a third. My goal was to get the train to go from one level to another. Trains are very touchy. Any bump in the track, incline or decline, or too short of a curve and they derail. After spending a summer on that, I came to realize that it wasn't going to work and just stayed with the 3 levels. The 3rd level was hard to see but the other 2 worked well. The only problem is that as soon as you walked into the family room, you'd see it. My kids weren't exactly happy with that and I'd have to agree. Although, they did enjoy running the trains, too. It was fun that when any children (young or young at heart) came to our house they'd wanted to see it run. Ty's son Justin was particularily interested.

This summer I tore the whole thing down and we rearranged our family room. Now the train will be in the corner (entire west wall). Oddly enough, that spot is bigger. The space I eventually was allowed, after many hours of negotiation, is roughly 6X12. Formerly, I had 5X9. Yes, I'll need more track.