Albion Software Newsletter

March 2024

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The latest version of Ship It! is still 10.0g. I've been noodling on some ideas for a future upgrade. One idea (credit goes to Dale Kreutzer) is to limit train capacity by car weight and locomotive pulling power. It gets interesting when you add in grade factors and use tonnage specific to car types and whether they are loads or empties. Add in helper service and it really gets fun. If I had to predict, the earliest an upgrade would happen would be next winter or spring 2025. As you can see below, I've got my work cut out for me just to get the layout up to par from before the move. The good thing is that I've gotten some new ideas from getting the layout operational - more on that below.

The Cripple Creek District in its new location:

3245 Lally Rook Court

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Those of you who received the September 2023 newsletter are likely aware that we were moving. I must apologize for the long gap between newsletters.

September 2023: The old garage in Texas with the layout ready to be moved .

It's been a long haul!

November 2023: The move to Colorado.

We were to close on a house Nov. 17. This did not happen for reasons out of our control. Luckily, I had spoken to the moving company (about storage) prior to us not closing, so that option was available.

Thanksgiving, November 2023:

We moved into an Air Bnb in Old Colorado City, close to the Garden of the Gods and the little downtown section. Great restaurants, great beer. Here's my workshop in the tiny laundry/furnace room in the Air Bnb.

December 2023: The home search begins again.

End of December 2023: we find a new home - luckily the owner wanted a quick closing.

Early January 2024: we move in - but only 1 module fit down the steps!

Mid January 2024: most of the layout still in the new garage, but at least I have a workshop!

Mid January 2024: The new train room is too small. The trestle module was the only one not needing alteration. I knew the space would be tight, but we loved the house, and it's only 3.6 miles from my daughter's house.

Eight inches had to be cut off the helix module, so the helix had to go.

End of January 2024: Two modules did not have removable legs, so I had to build benchwork to hold them.

The benchwork (table) was constructed using cross-dowel joints. The joints are very strong, and end up pulling the wood together square, as well as being easily disassembled and reassembled. As long as you use a jig to do it. I got mine at Woodpecker Tools (

I am also using cross-dowel joints to build some shelving for my office. We were able to easily move a large shelving unit I built several years ago for my wife's sewing business, by breaking it down to a stack of boards, which also allowed it to fit down the steps!

Question: If the modules (barring the one) did not fit down the steps to the train room, how could we get them down there? "Grandpa, just remove the railing!", exclaimed my Grandson.

Mid-February 2024: I get help removing the railing!

My Daughter and Son-in-law help move in the trestle module.

My Grandson helping to remove the foam. That's his own drill he's using.

March 10, 2024: layout operational. We are in the middle of the first operating session. My Grandson is the Engineer, and I'm the Conductor. Train #20 has just gone up the trestle to Bull Hill via engines 401 and 8. We are about to send #8 back down the trestle to Goldfield. We only need the one engine to do our work up top.

Reality Check

Between the modules being moved in and the operation described above, a lot of tedious work had to be done.

First off, the modules needed track sections spliced in. Code 55 rail joiners and short sections of track are not much fun to work with.

Next problem: the modules likely experienced an 85 degree temperature swing. A cold snap in January (the high one day was 3 degrees!) had my uninsulated garage down to 18 degrees. Due to the timing of the closing that never happened, the moving truck also sat out in the sun for 3 days. I had a tin of solder rosin (remember those Nokorode rosin tins?) that was mostly smooth from being melted!

That temperature swing and all the bouncing of the truck on the move from Texas resulted in a bunch of throwbar solder joints failing. That was to be expected. Then there were a number of places where the track was out of gauge.

All in all, not too bad, looking back on it. But honestly, there were a number of times when I wished I were in O scale, or at least HO standard gauge, rather than HOn3 code 55.

I know I am jinxing myself, but the trains my Grandson and I ran yesterday after hockey practice did not suffer any derailments, and we had done a decent amount of switching.

If you live in the area or are in the area, we are a stone's throw away from the World Arena in Colorado Springs, 5 minutes from I 25. Email me if you'd like to visit and run some trains.