Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Second Anniversary

December 18, 2010 saw my first post to this blog - that means it's time to celebrate our second anniversary. 
I'm continually amazed at the number of unique visitors - 44,690 unique visits - as of this post that have stopped by. A total of 88 of you have decided to follow this blog, which of course means you have to do whatever I say ....<g> 
I'm less impressed with the total number of posts - which sits at 90 - that I've managed to write. That's roughly one post every 2-3 weeks. From what I've read about blogging you really should offer short, but frequent posts. Obviously I've fallen short there.
I don't really believe in making new year resolutions, but I'll make an exception here:
  • I will commit to try to post a little more frequently:' I'll try for a one post a week average. 
  • In an effort to increase the post count I may adopt a "wordless Wednesday," like my friend George Dutka does on his White River Division blog. That will be in addition to the weekly post. 
  • According to Google analytics, the most popular post in the one titled "track plan." No surprise, since model railroaders are attracted to track plans like moths to a flame. But the plan shown in that post is an early version that doesn't show how the layout actually evolved. I really do need to do an updated trackplan that shows the layout as it currently sits. 
  • The second most popular group of posts are the ones on various classes/types of CV equipment. I have a few more of those prepared, and will post them shortly.

I'll hold off on layout resolutions for now. 
In the meantime, thanks to all of you who visit this little corner of the internet. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Let There Be (more) Light!

Quick work session this evening. Pete, Mat and Tom stopped by to help finish hanging the additional lights on the ceiling above the peninsula. Here's Pete and Tom peeking out over the backdrop!

We added three more four-foot light fixtures to the center of the peninsula - the difference was immediately noticeable. Next project for the lighting crew is to install extra lighting over the White River Junction yard. While the light installation was ongoing, Mat soldered the feeders to the rails in Essex Junction. Here's Mat working on the north end of Essex Junction yard. 

I went back and added the buss wire to the underside of the layout after everyone left. 
After a lot of distractions over the past few weeks things are starting to get done!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Before and After - Cleaning House Part III

As I mentioned we had family visiting for an extended time over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was great to see everyone, but the fact that half of the basement was doubling as my son's temporary "bedroom" while he surrendered his usual room to the grandparents meant not a lot got done on the layout. But my mom was looking for some way to help last weekend, so she volunteered to sort out my modeling desk and the set of shelves that I use to hold various layout-building materials.Here's the before shot of the top of my modeling desk. Wonder if my lack of productivity over the last few months had something to do with the fact that I couldn't find anything.  Naah!! That couldn't be it. 
After a LONG Sunday afternoon of sorting all the tools, paint, parts, models, etc . . . here's how my modeling desk looked:

What doesn't show is the inside of the drawers - they're just as neat and orderly as the top. I can't wait to build my next model since I can actually find things!
Thanks mom!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

House Cleaning - Part 2

We have out of town family visiting for Thanksgiving, which means I haven't had a chance to work on modeling projects. But I did take advantage of my dad's visit to get the "back room" cleaned up - I need to add the south end staging to make the railroad operational and with the amount of stuff shoved in the back room that was never going to happen. So Dad and I spent some time this weekend getting the storage/utility room reorganized. I still need to re-sort my "messy modeling bench," but it looks like when it comes time add the south end staging loops we'll be able to maneuver in the utility room!
Only other update I have is we need to have a session to finish the fluorescent light project. Hurricane Sandy caused me to cancel the planned session to finish up the lighting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

House cleaning

We spent some time cleaning up a bunch of branches from the yard and driveway - reminders of the severe weather we've had here in Northern Virginia for the past couple of days. I also took a few minutes this morning to do some housecleaning around the blog as well. You'll notice a new, cleaner look that I hope will be easier to read. I've also adjusted some of the topic links and increased the font size. 
Sandy spared us from any bad destruction - we had the power flicker a few times but it never went out, and although our backyard is full of water the basement remains bone dry. Unfortunately not everyone is as lucky. Reports are that New Jersey and New York City took the worst of it. And my extended family in Connecticut is still without power.  All those folks are in our thoughts and prayers. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

CV 40000-series Howe Truss Boxcars

 I was in Lancaster, Penn., for the Fine Scale Modeler Expo a few weeks ago. As I reported then, I took a trip to the nearby Strasburg Railroad, which is home to a number of nicely restored steam era freight cars, including a Central Vermont 40,000-series car.
It wasn’t in the best place for photography, but I did manage to get a couple of pictures in the late-afternoon light that show off the details of the car.
The Central Vermont received 200 of these single-sheathed 40-foot boxcars from American Car & Foundry in late 1924. These cars, numbered 40000-40199, represent some of the earliest examples of what are commonly referred to as “alternate” standard ARA boxcars. Although never proposed as a standard by the ARA’s Committee on Car Construction, more cars were constructed to this Howe truss design with two diagonals on either side of the door, than were built to the ARA standard single sheath design. 
The underframe was wood, with six stringers in place of the typical single pair of steel, Z-section stringers.

Closeup of the end of the restored car shows the ladders,
the top end plate, and the Carmer uncoupling lever.
 The CV’s cars were delivered with wood six-foot doors, Andrews trucks, and Hutchins roofs. They had an inside height of 8 feet, 6 inches. As built, they were equipped with vertical brake staffs, but all would eventually be retrofitted with geared handbrakes and Ajax brakewheels. they also came equipped with Carmer uncoupling levers. The sides had seven grab irons, while the ends were equipped with six rung ladders with the stiles mounted far enough from the end to clear the diagonal brace on the end. 
AC&F Builder's Photo shows the vertical brake
and end components. 
The ends of these cars were perhaps their most unusual feature. They were composite ends (wood with two vertical and two diagonal braces). Spanning these braces across the top was a pressed steel component referred to as a top end plate. The Car Builder’s Cyclopedia, defines an End Plate as:

 “A member across the end and connecting the tops of the end posts of a car body and fastened at the ends to the two side plates. It is usually made of the proper form to serve as an end carline.”*

Other single sheathed cars with composite ends used end plates of course, but what seems to make the ones of the CV’s 40000-series cars somewhat unusual is the fact that it was a pressed steel component, not fabricated from standard structural steel components.
The cars remained in service, pretty much as built, through the late 1950s and early 1960s when many of them were retired or placed in some form of company service.
 Approximately 25 of these cars were modified with the addition of grain hatches to the roof and hopper bottoms for grain service.
 Painting and Lettering
As delivered the cars featured the CV’s then-standard Roman lettering, with “Central Vermont” spelled out across all three “panels” to the left of the doors, and no "CV" initials, with the car numbers centered underneath.
During the Second World War (January 1942), the CV changed to the stacked Gothic lettering, with the road name spelled out in two lines, with the addition of "CV" reporting marks above the car number, like that shown on the restored car at Strasburg, and on this car: 
Initially, there was a white line above the “CV and below the car numbers. In later repaintings through the 1950s these lines tended to be removed, like in this view of 40050:
 The final paint scheme on these cars was in the early 1960s with the addition of the intertwined CV logo on the door.
A “layout quality” representation of these cars can be made using the old Train Miniature single-sheathed (incorrectly called by modelers “outside braced”) cars. John Nehrich described such a conversion in an old issue of Mainline Modeler, later reprinted in a book by Hundman Publications. Both are long out of print, but you can find old issues of Mainline Modeler at swap meets or on eBay.
About 15-20 years ago Steam Shack produced a series of resin freight car models for a number of CV boxcars, including the 40000-series cars. These models were made for Steam Shack by Funaro & Camerlengo, who still offers these as their Kit 7060 (as built cars) or Kit 7061 (cars equipped with roof hatches and hopper bottoms).
There are some issues with the F&C kit - the sides are rendered as heavily weathered - which some feel is a little on the heavy side (I tend to agree), making the model look like the prototype did late in life and not as these cars would have looked in service. There's also some issues with the ends - primarily the height of the end sill - on the resin cars it's much taller than on the prototype. But the Steam Shack/F&C kits do represent a good starting place for an accurate model. 

*Thanks to Dennis Storzek for his help in determining the most accurate description for the components of these cars. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Peninsula Campaign - How it looks today

It's been a couple of months shy of two years since I basically tore down most of my layout and started rebuilding it in its current configuration. I had the opportunity to take a couple of photos of the peninsula this evening. 
I wanted to create the impression in the viewer's mind that they were seeing some New England countryside with an occasional glance of the railroad in its surroundings. Instead, I thought the "Front Door" looked more like some sort of giant modern art sculpture. It was all about the infrastructure and not about aesthetics. And it really grated on me. Here's a look at how the layout entrance looked the day before I tore the upper deck off:
 And here's what the same viewpoint looks like today (pardon the leaning buildings - most of them are simple mockups propped in place):
Comparing these two shots has convinced me all the work and effort have certainly been worthwhile. 
It's been a long journey, and it's not over yet, but I feel pretty good about how things are looking. 

HO Scale Steam Era Freight Car Trucks

Well known freight car modeler and historian Richard Hendrickson has recently updated his summary of HO scale steam era freight car trucks, available online HERE. If you ever needed to know how a "Bettendorf T Section" differs from an "ARA Cast Steel with Spring Plank" - well, here's your chance to find out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

To-Do List - Mid October Progress Report

A few weeks back I blogged about my current layout To-Do list. So, in the interest of keeping things honest, here's my progress to date:

1. Improve the layout lighting throughout the room. Investigating several options. There may be an article here.
Not sure there's an article here, but we have installed 4 four-foot fluorescent fixtures - and have four more (at least) to install. This is a group project, and I'm working on scheduling a second work session with some local modelers to wrap this one up. 
2. Realign mainline track on one side of peninsula (there's a strange track alignment that the guys suggested looked odd enough to be reworked. Of course, this will require some modification to the foamboard surface of the layout, but shouldn't be too bad) - (Estimate 2 evenings)
Modifying the mainline was easy, but this project got a little out of control, and I ended up moving a hillside, extensively reworking the scenery behind Waterbury, adding two new rivers, and several hundred trees.  All in all, this task has taken considerably longer than the estimate, but it's been far more involved than simply realigning some track.
3. Add coal trestle siding to Everett. Again this will require some modification to the terrain, and some track modification. To fit the coal trestle siding in place may require lengthening the passing siding slightly and handlaying a turnout on the south end. - (Estimate 4 evenings)
Haven't started this yet. 
4. Essex Junction trackwork - Three more turnouts to handlay - then the remaining spurs need to be installed. - (Estimate 4 evenings)
One turnout remains, along with some siding track. 
5. Drop feeders in WRJ yard - (Estimate 1 evening)
All the track in place in White River Junction has feeders installed. 
6. Feeders in Everett, Essex Junction, and north-end staging - (Estimate 3 evenings) (Note: includes running a new length of buss wire).
About half complete
7. Bridge street overpass (abutments, bridge, and track needs to be complete so I can get to the WRJ passenger station area - (Estimate 2 evenings)
No additional progress. 
8. Install yardmasters desk in WRJ (John Paganoni is building this for me, but it will need some time to install - (Estimate 1 evening)
Desk complete, needs to be installed. 
 It's going to be a busy fall as I also have to prepare for the clinic I'm giving at the Fine-Scale Expo in Strasburg in October and the MER Convention the following week! 
Clinic preparation requires building up some foreground trees to various levels of completion and a small diorama to display them. Luckily, all the stuff for this will eventually wind up on the layout - but trees and such aren't going to fix the lighting in the room nor will they get the layout operational.
This took A LOT longer than I anticipated. Although I enjoyed doing the clinic, I think it's fairly safe to say I would have completed all the other items on my To-Do list if clinic preps hadn't taken all my free time for almost three weeks. With them out of the way, I can resume progress. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fine Scale Expo 2012

Just returned from the Fine Scale Expo in Lancaster, Pa. Overall, I had a good time - it was a fairly small show (although there were 500 registered attendees over the three days) - and it's very focused on craftsman structure kits. I overheard one gentleman complain to his wife that "For a train show, there's no trains!" Actually, the only model trains were the five or six items entered in the popular vote contest. This show isn't about trains - it's all about structures.
I arrived Friday afternoon, wandered around the dealer show and picked up a couple of items that I thought were appropriate for the layout. I also picked up a pre-production set of parts for an upcoming model of a New England mill building. The manufacturer asked me to build it and install it in the layout in time for him to have some photos of the finished model to show at the Springfield show. Since I was going to build the mill anyway, it worked out well for both of us!
I ran into George Dutka and Don Janes there - I always enjoy spending time with fellow CV modelers. As an aside, I was thrilled, and somewhat surprised, at the number of people who mentioned they follow this blog. Thanks! Nice to know someone is reading my scribbles!
Friday night I gave a hands-on clinic for 21 people - showing them how to bend and form wire tree armatures. The comments were very positive, and I enjoyed it although if I ever do that clinic again I'll change the approach slightly. We weren't able to completely finish the trees in the time allotted - and we couldn't spraypaint in the hotel and it was too dark and little too chilly outside, so the trees stopped at the "ready for final painting and leaf texture stage."  I'm quite pleased at how good some of the finished trees looked, especially when you consider these were first-time efforts! Oh well, I guess you learn something every time you "premiere" a clinic.

One of the highlights of the show was the "Muskrat Ramble," and On30 layout that was built by a group of Australian modelers. It now has a permanent home in Florida, but was transported to the show and set up and running for the event. 
The banquet on Saturday night was a special treat. I thought about heading out of town early, but was glad I stayed. The banquet was held at the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum - which is right across the street from the Strasburg tourist railroad (see photo above). I got there early enough that I was able to get a few photos of the fully-restored CV 40000-series boxcar at the Strasburg, as well as some other pieces of equipment like this Rutland boxcar. 
The banquet food was nothing to write home about (it was okay, but typical of such events). The setting - among the restored PRR and Conrail locomotives - couldn't be beat! After presenting the awards for each of the contest categories, the main event featured a pair of speeches by Dave Frary and Bob Mitchell, two well-known model railroaders. Mercifully, they kept their remarks brief and to the point - and were certainly entertaining. 
All in all a good weekend. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

White River Junction Featured in October 2012 RMC

In the October 2012 RMC you can find two articles on modeling White River Jct. Don Janes and George Dutka, two of my friends and fellow CV modelers, have articles describing their HO scale versions of White River Junction, Vermont. Don has modelled the yard and roundhouse while George focuses on the Station area.
You can find regular updates from both of these excellent modelers on George's blog (see the link on the right).
They also have the cover shots for this article - one (on Don's layout) features a CV M-3-a and a CN C-Liner awaiting their next assignments at the White River coaling tower (an Alkem Scale Models kit).  The inset photo shows a CN engine and some of blue and white thing in front of the station on George's layout.

Here's the cover -

I promise that's the last RMC cover for a while . .  .two posts in a row featuring RMC covers is sufficient for now. But this is sufficiently inspiring to get me in gear to finish MY version of WRJ!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Model Railroad Influences

What model railroad articles or authors influenced you as an aspiring young/beginning model railroader?
Although I find inspiration nearly everywhere I look on the internet and in the magazines today, my earliest influences, like most modelers, were in the pages of the model railroad magazines. And despite the fact that I would later be on the staff of Model Railroader, the majority of my early influences were found in the pages of Railroad Model Craftsman. Some of my model railroad heroes shared their work with us through the pages of this magazine at that time - names like Dave Frary, Bob Hayden, and Art Curren. Little did I know I'd get to know the three of them as friends and co-workers when I joined the MR staff - at the time they were model railroad giants to me. 
For the generation of modelers that came before me, John Allen is often heralded as the greatest inspiration. And though I admired (and still admire) his creation, I never really considered him one of my direct inspirations. To this day if you ask my generation of model railroaders who their greatest inspiration was I think Allen McClelland would win hands down. His Virginian & Ohio series ran in RMC about the time I was in high school – and was a real shift in the way model railroaders considered everything from design to operation. In many ways, the V&O and its creator defined the “modern” model railroad layout. I devoured every word of that series. Allen’s fictional railroad was so well thought out that I remember searching (in vain) through a railroad atlas in the local library for the V&O.
Another modeler, who’s work we didn’t see anywhere near enough of at the time, was Dick Elwell. His Hoosac Valley Railroad remains a favorite – and unlike the V&O it still exists today (although in a different house than when I first encountered it in the pages of RMC). See this post for some photos of the current version of Dick's masterpiece. 

Two other modelers who were an influence on me are not as well remembered as Dick and Allen today – but they still provided me with a significant amount of inspiration. Interestingly, they both modeled 19th century railroads. I'm not sure what that means, if anything, except perhaps their work was unusual enough that it really made an impression on me. Or maybe because my first HO set was an AHM 4-4-0 "Reno" I thought their articles applied to me more directly. In any event, their modeling and articles made quite an impression since I remember it clearly more than 30 (yikes!) years later. 
I don’t think either is active in the hobby anymore. (I believe one may have passed away a number of years ago.) (NOTE - See the comment section below)
The first of these two was Lester Jordan. He modeled a little-known Pennsylvania narrow gauge shortline called the BB&K that interchanged with the Shawmut (RMC, February 1978). His article, Trees of Autumn (RMC, October 1979) showed me that modeling realistic autumn scenery was possible, and the key was to have the overall tone of the coloration reflect the way trees actually changed color. His article on “Painting Russia Iron” appeared in the March 1978 RMC –and remains the best treatment of that subject I’ve ever seen. I remember referencing it when I was answering a question for MR’s Paint Shop some 20 years later.
The last big influence I remember from my formative years was Russell Griffin. Perhaps it was because he modeled New England (like Elwell), which was home to me, at a time when it seemed like no one modeled standard gauge New England railroads, that I found his articles so appealing. I still recall them after all these years –
November 1978 – “The Stone Fence” – a how-to showing how to build a true New England signature item.
July 1980 – “A New England Enginehouse” – At a time when it seemed every kit on the market was either over weathered to the point of stretching plausibility or was some fanciful version of reality this was a well-worn structure with the simple, basic lines that are a hallmark of New England vernacular architecture.
June 1979 RMC – “An American from a Mogul” – this was my first attempt at kitbashing – and my model came out pretty well. A neat project converting a Roundhouse (now Model Die Casting) “Old Timer” 2-6-0 into a “beefy” 4-4-0. Lots of neat detailing tips (as a bonus he also built and detailed one 2-6-0 “stock.”
December 1977 – “Personalize Your People” – Russ started out as a military wargamer who learned how to convert figures. He applied those lessons to create model citizens who looked right in his 19th century world. I still use the tips in this article.
There were others of course, but these four gentlemen really inspired me “way back when” to try different materials and techniques. For that I’m thankful since they really opened up a lifetime of challenge and fun.  
So, who were/are your well-known, and perhaps not-so-well-known modeling inspirations?   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Peninsula Progress - Things Coming Together

Or at least it's starting to look finished. It's amazing what that last 1/16th of an inch can do to convert the scene from a construction site it was a few weeks ago into something resembling a slice of the real world.  
The impetus was some out-of-town visitors coming by tomorrow. So I planted some trees and  positioned an old store leftover from the last SNE. Not sure if I'll use it in location shown. 

This is the side of the peninsula opposite the Waterbury scene.  Plan calls for a simple grade crossing for the as yet unfinished road (currently a rough gray streak!). Of course we'll have pole lines, ballast, cinders, and maybe a section house. To the right of the track between the road and the bridge will be a pasture scene surrounded by an old stone fence.... But before getting to all the pretty stuff need to get the mechanical issues like track and wiring. To that end I'm going to put away the scenery stuff for a while and focus on getting the entire layout up and running. So stand by for more track and wiring shots. . . 
But I couldn't resist trying one "pretty picture" test - Obviously, the water isn't finished yet and there's more tweaking needed to the rocks - but the scene is finally starting to look like something. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Progress on the Peninsula

Making good progress on the bridge scene and the peninsula "blob." Over the weekend I made a bunch of Supertrees - these are prepositioned on Styrofoam panels and are ready for planting.
Here's a view of about 1/4 of the trees I made yesterday.
More to follow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

White River Junction from the air, 1953

A few months ago I found a neat UVM web site that featured vintage images of Vermont - including some aerial views of Essex Junction and even a close up a industry at Waterbury. While these images were extremely helpful, the White River Junction selection was pretty slim pickings. In fact all that came up in a search of "White River Junction" was a bunch of photos showing the interstate highway being built through the Green Mountains in the late 1950s. While somewhat interesting, it hardly was useful for my layout research. 
That was a few months ago, and the internet is always changing. I've had some time during my lunch to wander around the internet over the last couple of days. Just for fun I went to the UVM site and entered "White River Junction" in the search window, fully expecting to find those same photos of interstate highway construction. Wow, those folks at UVM have been busy. There are dozens of photos of White River Junction - including this one dating from 1953 that at long last shows exactly how the turnouts between the station and the CV yard were arranged. If you go to the link you'll be able to use the "Zoomify" function to get some real close up views.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Peninsula Track Plan

I get a lot of ribbing from my fellow modelers for my relative lack of written track plans. I do draw plans, I just don't often show them since I'm a terrible artist and the plans I draw wouldn't make much sense to anyone but me.
So here is a special treat - the sketch plan I drew (the last of several) before starting the ongoing rework on the peninsula.
Key elements include
(1) The Waterbury station scene (which includes the Waterbury station, a feed mill, the CV freighthouse and a coal dealer)
(2) a mill stream scene - this will be visually isolated from Waterbury proper by a low hill and trees. The mill stream will disappear behind the trees and dead end in the woods. Along the mill stream will be one, perhaps two, old non-rail served mills. These are strictly for atmosphere - not traffic generation.
Working our way around the peninsula we encounter a simple grade crossing that features a small country store - and not much else.
Finally, we end up at the river crossing scene with the large truss bridge that will end up "buried" in the tree-covered hillsides.
Still to come is a way to transition from the hilly bridge river crossing scene to the relatively flat Essex Junction scene.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trees and Sunlight Over the Peninsula

I've been spending a lot of the time I usually waste in front of the television twisting pairs of florist wires to create foreground trees. I manage to twist a few dozen pairs during the news or while watching something with Christine. Time I'd normally be "wasting" has been put to good use.

And, I'm happy to report there's enough light over the lobe end of the peninsula to actually see things. When I got home from work I installed the first of a number of fluorescent lights planned for the layout room to replace or supplement the can lights. For this one, I replaced a can light with a single four-foot fluorescent T8 fixture. I chose to go with "daylight" bulbs rated as 5000K - which is the approximate light temperature of the sun. The result is a lot of light over the peninsula (and the rest of the layout now looks really dim by comparison) - so I can proceed with the alterations to the peninsula secure in the knowledge I can actually see what I'm doing!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Williams Creek Bridge

Russ Greene at New England Brownstone has included a nice "finished" picture of the Williams Creek bridge scene at the opening of his home page

Thanks to Russ for using the picture. 
And if you want some outstanding stone/brick products check out Russ' offerings - you won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Moving a Mountain

One thing that was bugging me about the developing "Waterbury" scene was the way the hill that ran down the center of the peninsula, and served as a backdrop for Waterbury, was very, very close to the rear wall of the feedmill. Meanwhile, there was a lot of "open space" on the far side of the hill caused to some extent by the fish hook shape of the ridge. Late Friday night it occurred to me I could rotate the mountain and have the curve in the hillside follow the track curvature around the lobe of the peninsula. The ongoing bridge project seemed to tie into this naturally, so I decided to move the mountain before I buttoned up the bridge project. 

Here's where the hill started
The roof of the feedmill is just visible in the left side 

of this image - and it shows how the "fishhook" hill 
is encroaching on the station/feedmill scene.
A drywall saw along the base of the hill made

 quick work of cutting the hardshell hill loose.
Work in progress: (as an aside, the need 
for better lighting should be obvious

 in these photos - that's the next project!)
The rock outcropping on the hill ended up
across the tracks from the foreground hill on
 the right of the overall photo above - making it look like a cut

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cross me a River ....

I spent some time over the weekend correcting the strange jog I had in the mainline on the peninsula opposite Waterbury (Item #2 on my "to do" list).  
This could have been a simple matter of straightening out some roadbed and relaying one section of flextrack, but a little mission creep came to visit - and I ended up working up an entire river crossing scene - oh well, it will take longer than the two evenings planned, but the result will be another "finished" scene. 
Inspiration for this scene comes from a number of places in New England, including this planned crossing of the Blackstone River by the prototype Southern New England Railroad - 

 Since I couldn't locate a commercial set of abutments that worked with the Walthers single-track truss bridge, I made up a pair of abutments from styrene and painted them to resemble concrete. Then I test fit the bridge in place:
Although I usually choose foamboard for hills and other terrain features I find it difficult to use to for taller landmasses. These two hills are the tallest on the layout, so I chose to use the old standby cardboard web with plastercloth shell. I find it easier to build the hills "up" than to stack a bunch of styrofoam and go through the labor-intensive process of cutting most of it away. 
Here's an overall view of the scene as it looked Monday morning.This scene will require a LOT of background trees since the hillsides will be covered in trees with some rock outcroppings peaking through them. Next step is plaster cloth and installation of rock molds: 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To-do List Progress - realigning mainline

In a previous post I mentioned there were several things I wanted to get done on the railroad before moving forward with plans to start test operating sessions in the fall. 

The first of these to float to the top of the To-Do list was a realignment of the mainline on the window side of the peninsula. Somehow I'd ended up with an odd little "jog" in the trackwork - it wasn't horrible but it just didn't look right. 

The plan for this locale has evolved over the two year history of the layout. There will be a one or perhaps two spurs leading to older industries, things that are only switched occasionally by a wayfreight a couple of times a week. There will also be a bridge, a rock cut, and a small country store and perhaps a gas station. A very simple scene intended to place "something, but not much" between the miles of open country running. 

Here's what the odd track alignment looked like when I started this morning (Apologize for the mess, I simply piled stuff out of the way:

I assembled a painted a Walthers single-track through truss bridge and started on the abutments (from styrene.) I also reworked the track alignment. It may be hard to see, but this is what the new alignment will look like. You can see the old alignment if you follow the blue lines at the end of the cork roadbed in the center of the picture.  (Note: the code 100 flex is simply pinned in an approximate location at this point):

I expect I'll have to handlay the turnouts to get the track flow right. Once the abutments are complete I'll carve the riverbed and install the bridge. 

Progress is good. More reports to follow. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

To Do List - August 22, 2012

I seem to make lots of to-do lists. I don't do nearly as well as getting the things on that list complete, but that's another story. I could be a wise aleck and say "Item 1: Complete layout" - but that wouldn't be very sporting. 
Bernie Kempinski had an interesting approach - to showing his progress in various areas. You can tell by looking at his chart which aspects of the hobby he prefers . . .

Here's my current To-Do list:
1. Improve the layout lighting throughout the room. Investigating several options. There may be an article here.  
2. Realign mainline track on one side of peninsula (there's a strange track alignment that the guys suggested looked odd enough to be reworked. Of course, this will require some modification to the foamboard surface of the layout, but shouldn't be too bad) - (Estimate 2 evenings)
3. Add coal trestle siding to Everett. Again this will require some modification to the terrain, and some track modification. To fit the coal trestle siding in place may require lengthening the passing siding slightly and handlaying a turnout on the south end. - (Estimate 4 evenings)
4. Essex Junction trackwork - Three more turnouts to handlay - then the remaining spurs need to be installed. - (Estimate 4 evenings)
5. Drop feeders in WRJ yard - (Estimate 1 evening)
6. Feeders in Everett, Essex Junction, and north-end staging - (Estimate 3 evenings) (Note: includes running a new length of buss wire).
7. Bridge street overpass (abutments, bridge, and track needs to be complete so I can get to the WRJ passenger station area - (Estimate 2 evenings)
8. Install yardmasters desk in WRJ (John Paganoni is building this for me, but it will need some time to install - (Estimate 1 evening)
 It's going to be a busy fall as I also have to prepare for the clinic I'm giving at the Fine-Scale Expo in Strasburg in October and the MER Convention the following week! 
Clinic preparation requires building up some foreground trees to various levels of completion and a small diorama to display them. Luckily, all the stuff for this will eventually wind up on the layout - but trees and such aren't going to fix the lighting in the room nor will they get the layout operational.
Blog posts for the next few weeks will cover these in more detail. 
Before you make fun of my to-do list, what's on yours? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012 Work Session Report

Good work session on the railroad this afternoon meant an early start to the new "model railroad season." I'm hoping to get the railroad somewhat operational in the next couple of months - thanks to the good friends who are willing to help it just may happen. 
Paul Dolkos and John Paganoni were the first to arrive - after discussing the lighting situation over the main peninsula (long story short - a better lighting solution is now a top priority) Paul got work ballasting the track in Waterbury. This track is in place and "finished" - which means it's been tested so I feel confident it's ready for ballast. 
Stic Harris arrived next. After the obligatory tour of the railroad, Stic got to work gluing down some ties for the last two turnouts in Essex Junction - while waiting for the ties to dry he cut up some pulpwood piles for the woodyard to be located on the end of the peninsula. 
John got busy filing up some switch frogs and points, and also got some measurements for the White River yardmasters desk - he'll build that at his house in his wood shop. 
Ben Hom opened up the rip track and managed to give all the cars currently on the railroad the once over - checking car weights, coupler height and operation, wheelsets, etc . . . He really plowed through the car fleet - we'll have to have him over again  . . . 

Bernie arrived later than the others and showed my son Matt how to assemble the Alkem C&O Signal Bridge kit (Matt is doing some contract assembly work for Bernie) and then made some repairs and touch up painting to the WRJ coaling tower. That's great, since I need to get it installed on the layout!

Finally, I took the opportunity to review the plan for the industries in Everett (named after a college classmate who was upset when he learned I named the river crossing after another classmate . . .) Looks like we'll be adding a coal dealer and a team track to the scene in Everett. 
All in a great day. 

Thanks to all for the help!