Mar 302013
 

Those of you who are familiar with Sioux Falls, SD may know that the city boasts and extensive bike trail and greenway system.   Of all the amenities in the city, my wife and I enjoy this one during good weather the best.  Perhaps what you didn’t know is that the bike trail forms a loop of 19.45 miles around the city.   There are a couple spurs also that add even more length to the trail.  The 19.45 mile loop is uninterrupted by traffic in only two places.  Additionally, since the loop essentially follows the Big Sioux River around town, it is more or less a water-line route with only one hill even worth mentioning.

Sioux-Falls-Bike-TrailThe Sioux Falls bike trail offers a place for a reasonably casual bike ride or one really nice place to train for a marathon.  During the past few years, that pleasure has been interrupted by construction on the city’s sanitary sewer infrastructure and flood control projects.   I’m happy to tell you that the trail is now in as good of shape as it has been in the past 3-4 years.

So on to my training run.  Yesterday.  I started out at 1PM and the winds were already blowing out of the southeast at 10-15MPH, which is not a lot of fun, but at least the temperature was in the low 60’s, so clothing was not really a concern.  I started out at Elmen Park Trailhead on the west side of town, heading north, under the Ellis and Eastern Railroad and over north of the airport and through Sioux Falls’ industrial park.

I was unaware that the public restrooms along the trail would be closed.   I rely on these during long training runs to refill my Amphipod water bottles.  By the time I got around to Falls Park, my bowels were in full G.I. distress mode.  Luckily, the public facilities were open at Falls Park.   But I found them closed at all the stops farther down the line.  This meant I carried a total of probably 28 ounces of water that had to last me 19.45 miles.   Didn’t happen.

I always carry my some cash in my Amphipod belt, so I was able to buy a couple two liter bottles of water at Taylor’s on  south Cliff Ave, which is right off the trail.   But by that time, it was too late and my body was already dehydrated.

That resulted in some cramping in my calves a couple more miles down the trail.  But things began to look up as I turned north.   The wind was at my back and the bottled water began to work through my system.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my outing.   I was feeling down about the cramping, but thinking about that, those conditions won’t exist in a competitive environment, because Brookings Marathon provides water stations every few miles.

Also, a word to those in training int he Sioux Falls area.  Try the bike trail.  But verify about the facilities first.   And to those thinking about trying the Sioux Falls Marathon, you’ll get a good look at this bike trail if you enter this early fall marathon.  A healthy portion of this event is run over the bike trail in Sioux Falls.

Mar 272013
 

DSC_4265Now that I am free of one big Progressive Rail project, I am free to pursue other interests in the hobby.  Tonight, I installed eye bolts (Details Associates) in the holes I drilled in the top of the long hood.   Places to drill were previously denoted by “bumps” that represented the eyebolts molded on the shell.   The older Japan-made Atlas/Kato GP7 had molded on grabs.  This is an example of such, so I shaved them off and drilled holes for Details Associates wire grab irons.

Stay tuned for a future post when I remove the 3M blue painters tape and reveal what colors this unit will be.

Mar 252013
 

O'Gorman Shamrock 5K run finishThe O’Gorman Boosters have done it again. Another fine event is in the books. Mrs. Dakotabranch and I both attended the 5K run and chilli feed.
This event runs like a swiss watch every year. The weather was a little cooler, at around 28 degrees and flurries in the air. I think last year it was 65 and sunny.

We were both pleased with our times. I normally take a few days off before a short race like this, but this time I ran a seven miler the day before. I must be in a little better shape than before, because I still turned in a fairly decent time: 22:26.  That was good enough for a 21/204 overall finish.  Mrs. Dakotabranch ran the 5K in 27:38, which impressed me at least. She’s too hard on herself.   Her run was 90th place overall.

My only complaint was not related to the race organization or course.   I had forgotten to put on my heart monitor strap before the start.  I realized this after about the first 900 meters.  Was probably better I didn’t have it anyway to avoid the distraction.

We’ll be back next year.

Mar 242013
 

Here’s a nearly completed project I’ve been working on for my friend Alan S, who I operate with once a month.

These switchers came from original Athearn Missouri Pacific units. Alan stripped the original decals from the model, leaving a very similar blue to what is used on the PGR units. Alan had already determined that he wanted to do PGR 36 and PGR 38. I was in luck because photos of both these units are plentiful online. Action points included:

  • Painted the side sills and running boards engine black
  • Set Highball Graphics decals on the models
  • Replaced the stock blue truck sideframes with Athearn flexcoil trucks (also airbrushed engine black before installation).
  • Painted the wheels and couplers roof brown to simulate rust and dirt.
  • Added a rooftop air conditioner on PGR 36. I used a Santa Fe style one which I know is probably not right, but rooftop shots of this unit are in short supply.
  • Added all-weather windows on the engineers side only
  • Moved the firecracker antenna on PGR 36
  • Painted the handrail ends and step edges reefer white
  • Custom fabricated spark arrestors, starting with 3/16″ brass tubing, tube styrene, and on the PGR 36, some plastic washers out of a Kadee coupler kit.
  • Cut sheet styrene to fit the CP placards for the handrails near the noses of both engines.
  • Lightly weathered the whole model with Polly-S Roof Brown

Having handrails already molded in MP blue was nice, but I didn’t feel that starting with decorated units in this case bought us a whole lot. There were a few bumps in the road to completing this project, but overall, I feel like they have turned out well. Here are the units on my layout.

Home » Modeling Progressive Rail SW1500 Switchers » HO Scale Progressive Rail Units
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Mar 222013
 

Life is a series of choices. I choose to run because it is fun, because it is healthy and because it give me a chance to reflect on what is going on around me. Training for a marathon changes that a bit. I look at it more as a hobby than probably others do. With a 20-something month-old in the house, I cannot afford for it to be anything other than a hobby.

But I’ve been running low on miles this week. And you may remember that Mrs. Dakotabranch and I are signed up for the Shamrock Run 5K in Sioux Falls this weekend. Miles are important to a marathon training regimen. a 5K is 3.1 milles. Before today, my total miles for the week stood at 7.1. Ugh. Normally for a Saturday 5K, I take Thursday and Friday off from any running at all. I can’t do that this week because I’m behind in miles for the week and the month.

So I stepped out into the dark and cold (17 degrees, winds E-6). 7.1 miles on the frozen plain around our small South Dakota town. Did I mention I cannot wait for spring to finally arrive?

I’d still like to run down that 5K goal I have, but it probably won’t happen this time.

Mar 212013
 

So I’m into the model railroad sub-intetrest of operations. One of my favorite places to operate in the area besides my own Sioux Junction HO scale layout is Alan’s Twin Cities & Western layout.

His TCWR stretches west from a Twin Cities staging yard through various Minnesota towns to Appleton, with a branch to Redwood Falls, which is operated by subsidiary Minnesota Prairie Line.

Alan has a couple of friends working on TCWR and accessory railroad locomotives. Tim S. is working on the GP20C and GP30C types. I’m kind of glad I don’t have that assignment. Will post more of Tim’s work as it goes into service on Alan’s layout. Some PGR power will also be deployed on the layout also. I’m in charge of that. SD38-2 #42 has already been put into service and is pictured below.

Home » Twin Cities & Western HO Scale Operations » TC&W Operating Sessions
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More about Alan’s TCWR in Prairie Ponderings in the January and October issues, available here.

Mar 152013
 

Yeah, this time change thing is a drag.  I slipped out for my 5.1 miler this morning under the cover of darkness.   I finished it that way too.  At least it was a little warmer this morning.  37F and an east wind at 8.

At this temperature, I have to start being careful not to overdress.  I almost always run out into the wind in the winter, which I did this morning.   However, my route took me on a little loopback that in the last half mile, turned me back into the wind after running with it for two miles.   Brrr.

There’s really nothing to do about that except stay inside and run only treadmill miles.    Yeah right.  We’re not gonna do that.

Did I mention that my wife and I are signed up for the Shamrock Run in Sioux Falls on March 23rd?   This event is put on by the O’Gorman boosters.  They do a good job every year.   See you there!

Happy trails.

Mar 142013
 

Yes, I’ve been thinking about getting a nose job.   Those model railroaders reading this know that decent chop-nosed first generation EMD diesels are in short supply in the HO scale market.  The crux of the problem is that EMD built almost no  GP7 or GP9 locomotives with low short hoods.  DSC_4119 So modelers are left to fend for themselves or use out of date models that don’t look good or run particularly well.

So, I took my first shot at a chop nose this weekend.   I’ve got some body work left to do.   But I thought I’d give you a first look.  Here is my chopped Atlas GP7 in HO scale.  For the front of the cab, I just used the front of an Athearn GP38-2 cab.   I shaved the cab front off and filed it down to match the early EMD round roof contour.

Eventually, I want to build myself a pair of BN GP10 locomotives.  These will be non-dynamic shells, so this one is just practice.

Mar 142013
 

I got out for another 7-somthing mile Brookings Marathon training run this morning.  It was 17 degrees F as I stepped out the door and I noticed before I left for work that it has dropped to 13 degrees F.   My lungs felt as if they would collapse in the first 3/4 of a mile, but after that, I settled into a nice rhythm.   The cold usually doesn’t bother me much so long as the South Dakota winds stay relatively calm.   The only real complaint I had about the morning was that the switch back to standard time has me getting back from my runs at first light or so.  That will change as we get closer to gun time, but I ran in almost full daylight last week.

I hope to get around the 19.45 mile bike trail loop around Sioux Falls this weekend and on Good Friday.  Stay tuned for details on that.

Happy trails.

Mar 082013
 

It was 25 degrees F and winds SE-5 this morning when I looked at current conditions at the NWS in Sioux Falls. This weather report was my ticket to break my streak of 62 1/2 miles of treadmill running uninterrupted by runs outdoors. We have a Landice L7 which is a very nice machine. I’ve partially trained for two marathons on it now. But I’m not gonna lie, being shut up inside running on the TM since Feb 17, I needed a break.

Today it came. I was able to punch out a fairly easy 58:11 7-miler this morning. I figure with the bad weather coming, I might not get to run outside again this weekend.

Also, as a bonus, it was almost completely daylight outside when I finished. Must be time to change the clocks. Hmf.

By the way, those of you hoping to get into the half marathon at Brookings in 2013, you better hurry. There are only a handful of bib numbers left!  Register here.