26 November 2015

Ye Olde Thanksgiving Post

Back in the day when college did not break for Thanksgiving until the day before the holiday, I was instrumental in making Thanksgiving special to a bunch of college students in west central Minnesota. This silly radio drama was broadcast on KUMM  with the help of some people named Nancy, Kennedy, Lopez, Fluegel and I think Nathan. I have never received any feedback from anyone who heard it originally back in the 90s. Perhaps nobody was listening that night. I doubt another radio drama was ever mounted again on KUMM. Maybe I should re-make this show as a video for the YouTube.
Here is the audio below of the ~12 minute show.

25 November 2015

A Fall day at the Granite City Train Show

Granite City O Gaugers layout
Earlier this month- November 14th to be exact- I partook of a train show in St Cloud, MN.
The Granite City Train show is a twice yearly event at the St. Cloud Armory. One show is in fall and the other is in spring. This show brings in quite a number of both train enthusiasts and vendors. I would suggest that this is the biggest train show between the Twin Cities and Winnipeg and quite possibly Western Washington. Most scales were present along with much railroad collectibles and antiques. I think I even saw some standard gauge track for sale. But saw good amount of rusty or old track which I do not need. My friend and I tend to look for salvageable operating equipment in O scale. There was a modest amount at this show.
This was my third time attending the show.My sub-mission for this show was to acquire more items for scenicing my dormant layout. I came out with quite an assortment which I will post later. In this post I show some of the layouts that were on display at the show.

Kids train area
I like that this show has set aside an area for kids to play with wooden trains and an electric train layout as seen above. Kids these days hardly see this hobby so it is beneficial to let them see and touch. I think by doing that stimulates the imagination. And that is what keeps model railroading going- plenty of imagination.
N scale layout
I acquired a bunch of Kato N scale track for really cheap. I have a few N cars and an engine. An N scale layout is in the distant future. However and temporary layout for a show might be possible.
  
  
HO scale layout



My first electric train was an HO Campbell's Soup outfit made by Life-Like. I eventually made a larger layout on some boards. I had a some buildings but very little in the way of scenery. Although I did have a rudimentary block system to control multiple trains.

Let us give thanks (in tablet form)

So giving thanks is supposed to be healthy for you according to this article- http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/giving-thanks#2

Came across this Thanksgiving video a while back. Most assuredly the most non-traditional Thanksgiving meal concocted by a vitamin company.

 
 So if you don't want to bother with fixing the turkey this year, swing over to Swanson and bag some of those tablets.

12 November 2015

The month of model railroads

November is nearly half over!! And thus half the month of the celebration of model railroading has been missed here on the Royce Files. Well lots has been missing from the Royce Files as of late. I have been a pretty poor blogger. Nonetheless, let's celebrate a little model railroading today with a post about the local train (model and toy) show.
The Spud Valley show has been held yearly in Fargo since the late 1970s. Its existence was in part inspired by the Twin City Model Railroad Club's multiple shows in the Twin Cities (so I overheard while wandering around this year's show.) However the Spud show incorporates much more than model trains. You can see model cars, vintage toys, toy tractors, and even a decent amount of railroad ephemeral (ie. railroad time tables, buttons, paper, calendars, hats, lanterns etc.) Plus, to my knowledge, it is the only train show in North Dakota. There are quite a few up the road in Winnipeg.
I went to the show a few years ago and was a bit disappointed. Not much that interested me from the vendors. And there were only 1 or 2 layouts. But this year was different. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Then I was surprised that I took more pictures of farm toys and trucks than the trains. I think I have more videos of the train layouts somewhere but I know not where they are now.
N scale layout.
There were a considerable amount of N-scale layouts (although 1 might have been Z) at the show this year including the one above. I also saw a Lionel layout and talked with the guy about how he wired it. Of course the Spud Valley Club's modular HO layout was there too.

Lots of Tonka and Tonka-like toys

Toy tractors
There was this odd combine which I saw. Just to the left of the yellow bus there is a Campbell's Soup Combine. No clue where it originated. The Net is silent on simple searches. And yes, to the right of the bus, that Massey Ferguson combine contraption is odd too. Although my Ag Toy adviser states his father had the full size unit at one time.

22 September 2015

Much to do with model trains

My railyard is dormant
 My layout has been dormant for quite some time. I redid the configuration but have yet to re-lay the track or do a power overhaul. I have also been looking for 42" turnouts and K-line switches. There are a few engines waiting to be run. I really want to get it up and running again before Christmas

Dalton O-Gauge layout
Visited the Dalton Threshing Reunion a few weeks ago. The smell of steam abounded. They have a little 2 foot gauge steam engine on the grounds that gets plenty of runs in during the weekend. There is also an area for model trains. The Spud Valley club brings their HO modular layout and then there is another guy with a small American Flyer layout. A large O gauge layout fills out the rest of the room along with a few tables of leftover HO pieces that must have been donated. The O layout is pretty bare for now- just a big double loop and some buildings here and there and particle board landscaping. No fancy Lionel accessories adorn the layout and the trains running were fairly common models albeit with Union Pacific markings.  
Model of Great Northern Dalton depot
The one building I had not seen previously was a model of the Dalton depot. The prototype is actually on the show grounds and serves as the station for the Milton Martinson- the 2 ft gauge steam engine. The model is pretty good. The layout has a lot of possibilities and I hope in future years to see some updates.
American Flyer fun



13 August 2015

6 Eyed Fish

While wandering the hills of San Francisco last month I encountered this image on the street. I am not sure if I had seen it before but it seems familiar. It appears to be a representation of a 6 eyed fish or maybe a whale. I have yet to find anything on the web about the image so I will just post this here to see what happens.

12 August 2015

Pacific Electric and fun on street cars


Visited the San Francisco bay area back in July and enjoy plenty of rides on tracks.
From the Airport I took the BART Train to the Embarcadero and later got on a street car much like the one pictured above. The next day I rode more BART and street cars and topped off the day with a ride on a California Line cable car. All the street cars in the Market Street and Wharf areas are historic and either restored to original livery or given a paint to honor a certain street car line from elsewhere.
The Pacific Electric car above is one such repainted. It originally served the city of Philadelphia. Pacific Electric was a line in southern California with some connections to the Southern Pacific Railroad. The store of the line is no unlike others in America. Rapid growth as people moved outside the city centers and then some ebbs with automobile use increases until finally became uneconomical to maintain the service. Really it is hard to understand how we let these modes of transport die away. There were some scandals concerning the eventual demise of Pacific, not unlike the street cars lines in the Twin Cities. But the business model of Pacific relied on the land development and that can only go on for so long.
Riding in historic street cars is really fun so if you get to the Bay Area take a ride.

13 May 2015

Fargo Marathon 2015: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

It is a cold run man
The biggest story from the marathon probably has been- it was cold. The second and lesser known story I will discuss in a later post. A third does exist but it is more romantic. And that being said there were not too many interesting shots  to get since most people were bundled up good. The only thing I did not see was someone running in a ski mask, but I suppose that I might have missed that one.
The marathon was fortunate to be run during the best weather of the weekend. As the weekend progressed the temperatures and precipitation made for a much cooler Fargo than previous years. But having the race this early in May is hit or miss with the weather. 2 of last years top finishers did not even run despite being registered. I would not say the conditions were adverse. They were good but certainly not ideal. The biggest challenge for running in Fargo is wind.  Nonetheless 20,000 is certainly a good draw for a race in cooler weather. Starting indoors certainly helped.
Costumes were a rarity this year. There were a few tutus. And there were a few costumes I did not recognize as a costume. Would have been a great year for costumes. So I will serve up what I captured.

Super Girl gave a super smile and wave to the camera and then sped off to keep warm in order to finish the half marathon.

Super Girl give us a wave
Yet again Superman showed that he is still the man of steel by running the marathon. Superman's outfit looks pretty good for mile 21. I always wonder what kind of reception he gets at the finish line. Does he just fly off?

Superman Returns
 Finally no marathon would be complete without the American flag bearer. No really a costume but goes with the Superman theme since his motto is truth, justice, and the American way. I wonder if that is still his motto?

The Ameican Way

09 May 2015

Fargo Marathon 2015: Spectating

cheer squad
It might have been freezing but Fargo showed up to cheer on the runners. All along 9th and 8th and Broadway masses thronged to glimpse the running spectacle. I believe this is one of the reasons this event draws so many participants- there are spectators.
I have done other races and nothing makes a long run go better than a few words of encouragement or the excitement of lots of people. It is that energy that a crowd generates for the runners that makes this marathon special.
The Fargo Marathon gets it right when they route the races into the neighborhoods and not on the outskirts of town.

bell boy is tuckered out after 4 hours

Fargo Marathon 2015: The Big Chill

30 degrees Fahrenheit at race time this morning! Fortunately all the races started in the FargoDome.
Lots were well bundled up and some less so. The top runners treated the weather like any other and cruised the course with shorts and tank tops. As a spectator I was chilled. I am glad I went back home and picked up gloves for the family otherwise I would have begun running to keep myself warm. This might have been the coldest starting temperature since the inaugural race 11 years ago. And on that day it snow too!
The chill did not keep 9th and 8th St from cheering on the throngs of runners fast and slow. Many spectators were in place well before the 7:30 start of the marathon and good parking was limited. Nonetheless it was a great time.
Eric Loeffler on 9th street
Nothing terribly dramatic at this year's race from what I observed. Marathon victors won pretty handily. But I must give a shout out to Keith Lehman. This is a guy to watch for the future. He might come back and win this race in a year or two. But this year's men's race went to a Kenyan transplant again. The women's race was won by a Colorado native. Bleacher Report sings praises and gives summary results of the marathon.
On the half marathon side of the day- Fargo's Eric Loeffler added another half victory and bested his 2013 victory time by 2 minutes. One of the of the region's top runners, Eric will be running Grandma's Marathon in June. An 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and UND grad, Heidi Greenwood won the women's half.
Finally, a bravery award goes to the man who decided to run shirtless in the chill of the morning. Hopefully there were lots of cheers for him. Eat your heart out Will Ferrel.
2015 Bravery Award Winner

Train Day 2015 Extra: William Crooks

The  Northern Trackers have a great spot in Crosslake, MN that features 3 scales of model trains in addition to a 1/2" scale model of the the William Crooks, Minnesota's first locomotive. I try to visit whenever I am passing through the area. The Crooks model sits outside their building near a G scale layout. Inside there is an expansive HO layout that models the railroad activity of the northern Minnesota from the early 1900s. Above there is a G scale loop. In another room there is an O-scale 3 rail layout with some interactive accessories.
The real William Crooks locomotive sits in the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. It formally had been on display at the St. Paul Union Depot but since 1972 has been in the Duluth museum beside another venerable engine, The Minnetonka.
An excellent article on the Saga of the William Crooks.
As for the person, William Crooks- he was the chief engineer for the railroad which the locomotive belonged- St Paul and Pacific. He was a Colonel in the 6th Minnesota Regiment during the Civil War. The city of Crookston, MN was named for him. He died in 1907 and was buried in St. Paul, MN.


08 May 2015

Something for Train Day 2015


At the Lake Region Pioneer Threshermen's grounds in Dalton, MN there is about a mile long loop of narrow gauge track on which a French steam engine rides.You can also see the old Dalton Great Northern Depot on the grounds.

Inside the depot I found this old Great Northern Calendar.

Fargo does not do much to mark Train Day despite it being a town that's existence is due largely to the railroads. Quite a bit of rail traffic rolls through this corridor especially the oil trains from western North Dakota.
I found another place to watch for trains in town although I do not know how busy the tracks are. Just west of NDSU are the old Great Northern yards. There is a lonely road across from the airport that gives a great view of outgoing trains. Too bad the Northern Pacific historical society doesn't run a steam excursion up here.

Fargo Marathon 2015: Cooler

Weather seems to have taken a turn the last few days. Marathon day may be a little less than ideal but the races are starting inside the dome this year. Hopefully there will be minimal wind to contend. The wind out of the west and north the last 2 days has made for some really chilly races. The kids race had some precipitation too. Early May is hit or miss with weather up here. We were trending upward in temps last week but then the bottom almost fell out the latter part of the week.
Things appear to be running smoothly for the races this year. 5K did run out of certain sizes shirts but runners generally did not chose to contend with haggard volunteers. Some made a few comments which is fair. Signage was a bit lacking for the 5K registration and packet pick up. I believe there was only one directional sign and the registration area had nothing. 
No Coach G.P. this year nor is Dick Beardsley hanging around.  But Olympian and American women's marathon record holder Deena Kastor did head up the speaker series. I know nothing about the elite runners this year and made little effort to find out who was running. Being a father has made spare moments smaller.
Also the marathon has a few branded vehicles now in addition to the trailer.
Marathon Car
5Kers looking for health food

03 May 2015

Classic Toys: Small Tonka Trucks

Tonka has served up a large dose of toy vehicles but large and small since the 1950s. These days I think they are a shell of their former self as they have been brought under the big toy tent of Hasbro.

While rummaging through my mostly Finnish farther in law's farm, I found these toy vehicles. 1 is actually a Tootsie toy and should have an entry for itself. The other 3 are Tonka from 70s to late 80s vintage I surmise. I had a few of these types of trucks growing up.

02 May 2015

The Motel's Sauna Dilemma


I am lead to believe this motel was not built or run by Finns.
An air conditioned sauna really defeats the purpose of sauna, no?
Nor Scots, since why waste all that money to cool something that was meant to be steamy hot.
Perhaps it was a gimmick to draw in the curious.
I suspect "air conditioned sauna" was a euphemism to describe Selkirk in summer.
The place is still there in Selkirk but looks like the air conditioned sauna was ditched for a hot tub.

01 May 2015

Fargo Marathon 2015: Countdown to start

Just a week to go before the Fargo Marathon kicks off. The route markings are on the streets.
I think May 10th is the earliest the marathon has ever been run in Fargo. Not sure if that is keeping the numbers down.  As of 4/28/15 there is plenty of room left in all races. In previous years that has not been the case.
Good that the weather has been warming up although all races start inside the Fargo Dome except the 5K.
A route change this year will keep the marathon north of 94 and include a considerable increase in mileage on the Moorhead side of the river. Looks like 4 miles in the middle of the marathon. The half does not even cross the river. And the 10K and 5K stay relatively close to Fargo Dome and Mickelson Field. Basically opens up more spectating locations in Moorhead in the neighboorhoods adjacent to Concordia College.

01 April 2015

Epiphone EA-230

This Epiphone bass looks like the Rivoli, but it is not.
Gibson started to move most Epiphone manufacturing to Japan in the late 1960s. The Rivoli line of basses disappeared then were resurrected in the 1970s as the Japanese made EA-230. Most models of this bass I have seen are in need of neck work. My was no different. The action got high past the 5th or 6th fret.
I sold mine recently after having been the owner for ~17 years.
I bought it at a Music Go Round when I was just starting to play bass at the Hill.
It served me well and was certainly a nice looking instrument.
 

Lionel Stuff: Is it a shack or a freight platform


Not much has been written about Lionel structures from the MPC  to early modern era. Most of my searches just direct me to ebay or another site which re-directs me to ebay. Lionel released some really interesting structures during that period. Today, I pay homage to a humble track-side structure.
Personally this freight platform is one of my favorite track-side structures. I assembled this late MPC era kit ( in the photo above) in Fall and gave it some paint. Really smart looking building. Not sure if there was a prototype but such a building is plausible.
Lionel has released this model numerous times since the MPC/General Mills era. They mostly referred to the structure as a freight platform although there is documentation that it was also called the hideout shack. First released as a kit which required assembly and glue. I wholeheartedly disagree with a claim on an early box that it is a snap together structure. It is not. But later on Lionel rectified that by offering it as a pre-built accessory. The 2012 and 2013 catalogs had the freight platform pre-built, weathered, and included a light.
Slightly modified structures were cataloged under a few different names over the years. In 2002 Lionel cataloged the structure with some hobo figures, a smoke unit and a dilapidated look as the Smoking Hobo Shack. In 2013 it was released ready built without the overhanging roof and freight door but with Boy Scout insignia on one side and a flag pole and interior light.
Lionel also released a wood version of this structure in G scale in 1989 while trying to work the large scale market.

24 March 2015

Shaking off winter with seedling planting

Cold dry winter is mostly over since calendar spring arrived. Still cold despite the crazy high temps the week before spring arrived. Snow threatens but hardly shows itself.
At spring's arrival the planting of the garden is in my mind- also taxes but I refuse to blog about them. So I have begun the seedlings for this year's edition of the garden.
Thus far we have peppers- bell and Hungarian wax- and an assortment of tomatoes- Delicious, San Marzano, Cherokee Purple.
Last season I planted Brandywine, Orange Queen, Roma, Cherry, and an smaller pear shaped golden tomato. I think I may have had a Manitoba too but my seedling markings got separated so I am unsure. It was an average harvest due in part to cooler temperatures. The cherry produced the most. Orange Queen provided the largest specimens.  I also had some really hot peppers in the garden called Burning Bush. Sadly we were unable to find a use for them as they were extremely hot. Hence  I am going with bells and Hungarian wax this season.

Seedlings started

 

09 January 2015

Retribution of Crazy Online Ads

Years ago I would post a few strange online ads and make inane comments on them.
They have so proliferated the Net it was impossible to continue.
However, this one really grabbed my attention this week. Finally somebody with the guts to expose the Fed. But this does not look like the Fed.

Sexy and romantic threat

I did not click on this ad due to potential of it maybe linking to more scantily or suggestively dressed females threatening the economic security of the US.
But why is the ad suggesting such a threat with the sexy blond with candles?
Is the GDP somehow tied to the business of presenting alluring women in low light settings to gullible males?
I bet there is someone at the CIA who knows.

Classic Fisher Price: Rock-a-Stack

Fisher Price has produced over 40 million of these since 1960. They are still produced with a slightly different design for the "donuts" and base. The newer version I have has a few less "donuts."
I am pretty sure every child of the last 50 years has played with one. And it has a wiki entry.
The rock-a-stack has made a few cameos in Pixar films- notably the Toy Story series.
Besides that there is not much out there about it.
But there is an entry on how to make a candy rock-a-stack.
I think the one below is from the mid-1970s.
rock-a-stack

 

08 January 2015

Classic Fisher Price: Music Box Pocket Radio

Fisher Price made tons of wind up music playing items.
This one plays It's A Small World and was produced in the late 70s.
The song was popularized by the Disney created attraction for the 1964 World's Fair in New York. Afterward the attraction was moved to Disneyland. Copies have since been installed in all the Disney Theme Parks. However I would like to see them install it on their cruise ships.
Mary Poppins composers Robert and Richard Sherman wrote the song.
The graphics on the back seem to look like style of the ride but I have yet to find any Disney relationship concerning this toy.
It still plays although there is some wear to the bottom. Once again Fisher Price proves durable after nearly 40 years.

Music Box Pocket Radio: Small World

07 January 2015

Classic Fisher Price: Chatter Telephone

Fisher Price was the toy brand name I recall the most from my childhood- along with Kenner and Mattel.
They did not produce much licensed products- although I think they did produce some items with Sesame Street characters. Basically they were the the go to manufacturer for fun and durable toys that spanned generations of children. They are still around today but I believe they are produced by Mattel. Timeline about them here. Sadly the timeline misses my favorite line of Fisher Price toys- Adventure People. I will write about that in another entry.
By the time I came around Fisher Price had been around for about 45 years and was playing with the still usable hand me down toys from the 1950s and 1960s.
Today's entry for the blog is the Chatter Telephone. This guy has plenty of play value for make believe  and action. The rotary dial makes ringing sound when turned and a sort of mumbling sound when the toy is pulled.
Fisher Price released it in 1963. It is still being produced nearly unchanged.

Chatter Phone by Fisher Price