Large Scale Central

Triple O - 2023 Plans & Objectives

I decided to continue my habit of putting my years’s plans and goals in print as a way to budget time and money over the course of the year ( Triple O – 2022 Plans & Objectives). I am also using this as an “anchor thread” to collect links to previous projects to make it easier to reference past successes and failures! I have spent the last several week’s reflecting on 2022’s endeavors, and I racked and stacked this year’s objectives to reflect the following:

  1. The kids are getting older. On the one hand, this means I can incorporate more details. On the other, it also means that they are all finding their own voices in other activities. While I am pleased to see the glues and paints and techniques we accumulated building the Triple O getting divided amongst crafts, rockets, planes, etc., I have to face the fact (and enjoy the fact of) Kid-zilla remains the last instant sidekick.
  2. I rather like 1:24-ish PLAYMOBIL scale. I just like PLAYMOBIL. My brother and I played with it. All my kids played with it (the boys still do). It has a high nostalgia factor, and, practically, I can really bring the railroad to life with the “little people.” I also like the fact that, with few exceptions, I never have to say, “Don’t touch!” I learned the phrase, “Build to your own level of detail,” and, for the moment, I am happy here.
  3. I need to allow myself the luxury of taking advantage of the flexibility I build into these plans. Last year I let myself get bogged down in a couple projects. This year, I really tried to spread the themes around to flex to available time, materials, budget, and, yes, interest. I deliberately spread out the project list across a lot of topics and ideas, and I am loosely prioritizing them to attack left-overs from 2022 and repairs first. Maybe.
  4. Continue to prioritize locally-sourced solutions. There are some details I cannot make or find, but I am shocked at how much stuff I can source locally. It saves me time and money, supports local businesses, and expands my sense of what is possible.

My ruminations behind me, Kid-zilla and I hooked up a work train…

…so hop on and follow along as we detail this year’s plans!


The parts are on hand, but, after repair, he will retire to ceremonial duties. ( LGB 0-6-2T: BadMotor, Bad Gears, Both, or Something Else?).

  • The Tub-o-Trains. Two holdovers remain from last year ( Tub-o-Trains: Low-Cost Micro-Projects on the Triple O ). The box car had no door when we got it, and we stripped it for parts last year.

    I have been looking for an excuse to use Matt’s ( @Matt_Hutson ) scribed basswood technique, and the door seems like a natural way to try this out. I got the mounts for the roofwalk last year, and I think craftsticks will form the planks. I am weighing using this as a project car to see where we can go painiting it all up for our railroad.

The reefer…

…just needs new handrails, which we can bend, and some ice hatch latches, which Ozark makes.

Our earliest buildings have begun to show some wear and have survived falling coconut fronds, acts of dog(s), bank robberies, derailments, etc. The hard part will be maintaining some of their “folksie” character while improving their appearance.

  • Water Tower & Pumphouse. My father-in-law built the original. Mr. Otto, our cattle dog, decided it did not, in fact, need legs, so we clad Styrofoam in crafsticks, called it a pump house, and enjoyed it.

    The crafsticks are peeling off, and, frankly, I don’t like the peaked top. I will have to be very careful to incorporate my own aesthetic without losing the builder’s intent. Like last year, my plan is to see how far we can take foam in pursuit of the new pumphouse.

  • Private Residence. We built this using Hardiebacker and clad it with craftsticks.

    This may have been our first building. It got a new roof along the way, but, somewhere along the line, the craftsticks began to separate from the Hardiebacker. This is unique amongst our buildings, where craftsticks have held up fine wood-to-wood or wood-to-foam. Hardiebacker proved too hard to work with, so we never repeated the process. I may decide to make this a stone hose using our foam meat trays and see if that hold up better, even if it is not typical for Hawaii in our nominal time period (1880-1940).

  • Pu’uomao Yard Office and Observation Tower. This was our first Mik project ( Miks 2018 – Pu’uomao Yard Office and (Maybe) Observation Tower). We’ve rebuilt the tower and platform numerous times, but it is getting worn.

    To boot, the wiring used to turn on and off the passing siding / coaling track no longer works (we used the wrong type of wiring). Fixing the wiring is a “must.” How we improve the look without destroying its origins will be the trick.


Neither have run particularly well, probably because I didn’t actually fix the weight in place. Tire balancing weights should fix that. Christmas Thomas originally had plastic false sides I was supposed to be able to screw on and off to hide those stickers. Fail! My plan is to use this as excuse to play with brass and to make false sides held together with banding that we can drape over him in the seasons between Christmas and Advent. Both locos tend to work the fields of our inner loop, which is more prone to breaks in power, so both may get battery and a Magnetic Critter controller.

  • M.O.W. I hope to finish installing rail clamps on the rest of both mainlines and all passing sidings. Also, I hope to finally address the approaches to both of our bridges. The trestle is no longer in alignment with the tracks…

    …but it is firmly concreted into the gulch…

    …which is why I’ve left good enough alone for now. I really don’t have a good plan of attack.

The approach to the other bridge (upper part of picture below)…

…has on occasion caused derailments. I think just need to stabilize the approach at both ends.

  • Power Supply. Our homemade controllers are suffering from wear.

This presents some saftey concerns. We may go to an internal power supply to simplify things. We had been experimenting with secondhand Train Engineers, but no one really seemed to like them. More experimentation is warrranted.

The Stretch Projects.

  • 4-6-0T “Tropical.” I have always wanted to follow @Bill_Barnwell 's admonition to build a loco from scratch. I don’t want to make a wreck from a perfectly good STAINZ, but PVC pipe, a spare B’mann chassis…

…some Ozark bits, and a bit of creativity could produce an engine loosely based on South African engines, possibly with a field tender. An open cab would allow any detail parts to remain visible. The idea is to accumulate skills on a fantasy loco now for more prototypical projects later.

  • Inspection Locomotive. Pete (@PeterT )challenged us with the idea, and helpfully sent around some bits.

    The powered tender is an obvious way to make this roll, and Oldest Duaghter says we need more green locos anyway.

  • More flat cars. We still have lumber left over from our crane care project ( Crane Car for the Triple O)…

    …and, let’s face it, I do need to get better with my nemeses in the Saw Family. Archbar trucks are already on the way, and Kid-zilla is already crafting a special load.

  • Secret Project. I’ve accumulated a number of derelict m2075 chassis and m2075 (battery). Someone had given me the idea of a heavyweight flat car, my books on the OR&L had shown we were missing an aspect of island railroading, and we know how to repower these little locos…

    …whatever could the 1:24 gang be discussing with the local garrison?

It’s an ambitious agenda, but that is the point! When the goal is to have fun, improve what you have, make something new, and learn along that way, I figure we win regardless of how many of these ideas come to fruition!

Thanks for reading!


P.S. But first the Mik!

1 Like

High expectations!!!
I have 2 things on next years list, SF F3 A&B converted to battery and find out why Steve Featherkile’s Dash 9 is refusing to move!
Look forward to watching your progress Eric and family!!!

Yeah. We’ll see where the year takes us! I really tried to find a lot of what I call “micro-projects” that I can use to test new techniques before applying them to something bigger. I hate not finishing things, and I wouldn’t want a technique-dependent project to derail a year’s worth of enjoyment by discovering too late that matters of space, material availability, and / or personal druthers make the project untenable.

Also, while the crew is drifting to their own interests, I do try to spread around projects to let them pick and choose where they want to be involved. “All may participate; none must participate” has been a mantra that has served me well!


1 Like

Whoa, but time flies, and I find that it is time to “score” myself for 2023. Our lanai serves as our Thanksgiving dining room and our Christmas room, so it all projects need to come to a conclusion or be brought to a place where the builder can safely store the project, be it airplane, rocket, or railroad item.

To be frank, I had been feeling a somewhat down about what we took knocked off the above list. I read and re-read it, and, actually, I am relieved to find we did OK. Somwhere over the course of the last year, I forgot to remember part of my guiding philosophy I laid out for the year, namely “I need to allow myself the luxury of taking advantage of the flexibility I build into these plans.” In the end, we traffic in fun and count our profit in hours of enjoyment. I think we did OK.

Now for the concrete tally of what transpired!

  • 2023 Mik - Done! The MIK got us started, and the Mik remains a rally point. Our dockside market ( 2023 Mik Challenge - Makeke o Haluku’ilio) was the first time I was able to let the 1:1 crew loose, which was fun to watch. We are already ruminating about Mik 2024, and I am hoping, nay, PRAYING, there will be a secessionist movement!


  • LGB 2018D Mogul Nuernberg - Done! This relatively simple wire replacement put this venerable garage sale find back in service ( LGB 2018D Mogul - Cable From Cab to Tender Kaput) . The loco still causes fits, derailing, stalling, etc. but most of that is trackwork issues.

  • LGB 2071D Gustav - Done! This waddling tank engine is hands down a Triple O favorite. It was a same to see “him” laid up so long, but we got “his” gears and got “him” running ( LGB 0-6-2T: BadMotor, Bad Gears, Both, or Something Else?. I have retired Gustav to ceremonial duties, however.

  • Tub-o Trains - Deferred…again. As in 2022, I just didn’t get to this one ( Tub-o-Trains: Low-Cost Micro-Projects on the Triple O ). No one else was hot to move out on these projects either.

  • Bonus Repair - LGB 23130 Olomana - Done…again! As if the boys interest in rocketry wasn’t taking up enough of my time, Olomana decided to fry her motor…again! Yet another opportunity to try soldering with this project ( LGB Olomana - Smoked Buehler Motor) . This is another loco that I have decided needs to be run gingerly in the future.

More to follow…


From what I’ve seen and heard here , I’d say you’ve garnered much more than the amazing number of projects (both on and off your 2023 list) you’ve completed while fully embracing CICHOUSE (sp) number one rule. Thank you all for the steady posting


Thanks, it is a pleasure to post and to share. I learn a lot, those skills bleed over elsewhere, and I get to participate in a larger community. I also hope our efforts to craft a functioning railroad inspire a family somewhere to take the plunge and convert their Christmas train into a fulltime source of fun. This particular list is just my way of taking stock of what we did, and what we learned, and that helps me shape where to try and steer things next year. Practically, it also serves as an index in case I need to find something again!

Getting deeper into my list of intended projects.


  • Water Tower & Pumphouse - Started / Deferred . This was to be my project between projects ( Haluku’ilio Water Tower – Another Triple O Rehab Project), but helping the boys pursue rocketry (to include, admittedly, building a few rockets myself!), put this project on the back-burner.

  • Private Residence - Done! Saving this little house ( Rehabilitating a HardieBacker Home ) was very satisfying. While not “Hawaiian” by any means, it is sure a lot more durable!

  • Pu’uomao Yard Office and Observation Tower - Deferred . This one probably needs to be right there after that water tower in 2024!


  • The “Thomases" - Deferred . These LGB m2075 (battery) repowered with STAINZ chassis work well enough that I had to deprioritize this project.

  • M.O.W. - Partially done. The bridges are holding up, and I had no good ideas on how best to improve what works. We also attended to our controllers as wires broke. The big move here was deciding to make railclamps our “strategic purchase” (an annual lump investment in the Triple O), which has made a massive difference in how the Triple O runs ( Triple O - Thoughts on Rail Clamps (and a 2023 Objective knocked out) ).

The Stretch Projects .

  • 4-6-0T “Tropical.” - Deferred. Simply a project too far. This one steams on in my imagination.

  • Inspection Locomotive - Deferred. I have been working this issue with Pete ( @PeterT ). The idea is to get a pair of B’mann coaches, cut one to make a representative model of Benjamin Dillingham’s parlor car, salvage its parts for the loco’s casmate, and then simply “OR&L up” the second coach. Budget, space, and time put this one on hold, though.

  • More flat cars - Massive Project Redirection. Kid-zilla’s creativity led to this year’s major project, the Submarine Transport for the Triple O. The intended timbers were too uneven for that undertaking, and the dogs got a couple anyway. Still need flat cars, but I like where this project led!

  • Secret Project - Deferred. The boys and even Oldest Daughter have talked about projects that lend themselves to a Triple O style homage to an as-yet unrepresented part of the OR&L’s history. It would require another STAINZ chassis from TrainLi, but we’ve got the skills and bits to make this work. Stay tuned…

And that’s that. Now it’s time to look at where we are as a family, where the railroad fits into that, and what we need to do to make sure that this remains true to CINCHOUSE’s admonition “It cannot be just your hobby!” all while fitting it into the budget, and, yes, what I want to do!


1 Like

Don’t feel too bad my list of things to get done this year haven’t been crossed off either.

One of them being to simply run a train… Yah that hasn’t happened yet.