Chris Holder's ARR Clock

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Like so many, I'm an admirer of the ARR, and prone to collecting N-Scale ARR locomotives and cars along with ARR memorabilia. However I live in a small condo with my wife and don't have much room to set up and enjoy my trains. More to the point, they've been stored for quite some time in plastic storage containers. But not anymore!

I had the idea to pick up a Grand Father Clock and utilize this as a storage cabinet; one of the tall floor models with the top third containing the clock dial and mechanism and the lower two thirds serving as a display case. I eventually found a Howard Miller clock on Craigslist for $200. And then the real work began.

In addition to the six shelves within the lower cabinet I wanted to use the top third for storage as well with easy access from the front. This necessitated cutting out "the face" of the clock and then securing it directly to the door with spacers and wood screws. Note, as this was to be an "Alaska Railroad Clock" I placed a store-bought ARR herald to the clock dial with a smaller scanned and sized WP&YR herald directly above this. Inside the top compartment is a larger WP&YR herald along with a black fabric pouch holding some locomotive mechanics' tools purchased at a garage sale in Anchorage.

Because I store all of my N-Scale cars in a variety of chocolate boxes (See's boxes work great for Microtrain storage) just stacking them on the shelves within the clock, though fulfilling my storage needs, would appear unsightly through the door's display glass. I then had the idea of placing a route map of the ARR behind the glass, in part to hide what was within the case, but too, for presentation. Scanning the ARR Strip Map provided by the company to its passengers, I resized it for a proper fit and proceeded to give it a digital upgrade.

In upgrading the Strip Map I want to emphasize that I in no way desired to infringe upon the original artist or the ARR Corporation. The upgrade I performed was simply for my own personal self-interests (that of a display clock) with several key points in mind. First, I needed to "bring out" the colors so that they would match the herald's glossy appearance as displayed on the clock face. And secondly, given the "stretched" resizing I added more Flag Stops to the map, corrected a couple of mile post errors, and changed a few minor details ("www" is no longer required in the web address; I also changed "McKinley" to "Denali," etc.). Long story short, I had to teach myself how to use Adobe Photoshop along the way, give it my best shot, and digitally upgrade the strip map without detracting from the original artist's rustic theme.

Incidentally, the digital upgrade took longer to produce than if you were to ride on all the ARR routes and back again! But this is largely due in part to having to teach myself how to use the Adobe program. A professional print shop printed and laminated the strip map, and using black home foam sealing strips and 3/8 inch back board I was able to mount the map behind the door glass and secure it with brass wood screws.

In closing, the entire project took about three months to a tune of about $350. It holds all of my N-Scale ARR rolling stock, and I'm now thinking of a complimentary way to store the track and switches.


Click here for the Photoshop ARR strip map Chris created (caution - the file is 7MB).