Friday, January 30, 2015

Inching towards 200,000!

Poking our nose out to say we should be hitting 200,000 unique views on this blog sometime in the next 24 hours!!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rethinking White River Junction - 2

Is this the answer to the White River Junction dilemma? Time will tell. 
Been doing some scheming and planning regarding the issues with White River Junction that I blogged about a week or so ago. 
I received a fair amount of feedback on the blog post, both on the comments section and through personal emails and I've read, considered, and most of all appreciated them. 
An overhead view of the station in position on the layout. 
If this was a layout in the planning stage I would have to admit at this point I'd say "no joy" on WRJ and find another scene. But the track is in, and wired, and everything works reliably. So the question is "Do I press forward and try to fix the things that are bugging me, or scrap the entire scene and start over?"
If I hadn't done any rework to the layout I would likely choose the latter - but as I told Bernie at lunch last Thursday I feel like all I've done is benchwork, track, and wiring. Frankly, I'm sick of infrastructure. 
Finally, there's the not so insignificant fact that the station and coaling tower - two signature structures - are complete. 
So a "tweak" it is. 
Several people commented that the hole would be less objectionable with light levels matching the layout room. Here's a view that proves that theory. I made it that tall to take photos from "inside " the hole looking out - but the result is the hole is too tall. 
This prototype shot is pretty close to the angle of the model photo above. Note the Cross & Abbott building to the right. Circa 1957. B. Decker photo. 
The diagram at the top of this post, courtesy of Bernie, shows the plan to address the entry into staging. To start with we'll add a coved backdrop piece. That will make it easy to lower the height of the "mouse hole" The left side of the opening will be a seamless transition to a low piece of backdrop in the staging yard that will screen the unsightly elements from view. 

By the time I took this photo Cross & Abbott was Vermont Salvage. (For a number of years it was White Mountain Paper Co.). Most of this wall will be visible on the layout. 
This is a portion of the old Swift & Co. packing house. The low height will work well for screening the hole in the backdrop. At least I hope it will. 
Sanborn Map shows how some of these elements fit together. 
Front side of Vermont Salvage, which will be the Cross & Abbott Co. during my era. 

On the right side I plan to add the long warehouse structures to the rear of Cross and Abbott and may add some portion of the Swift branch house - even running the wall into staging. 
What of the staging yard that juts into the middle of the workshop? That's going to have an adjustment made as well, but first I want to ensure this transition works. 
Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rethinking a few things

Some things work, others don't about the White River Junction yard. It remains the only layout section that hasn't been rebuilt…yet. (White ruler is for size reference!)
Some days I really wish I was one of those modelers who could design something I'd be happy with for 40 years….like Jack Burgess. 
But I'm not. 
I could never actually "over plan" anything - we've all known modelers who are trapped in "analysis paralysis." My approach is a little more "Ready…Fire….Aim!" but hey, it works for me. 
After spending several years and lots of hours building, rebuilding, and rebuilding again I'm finally happy with the "middle" of the railroad - basically the long peninsula down the center of the room. 
They say the sure-fire way to tell if something isn't satisfying shows in a distinct lack of progress. And any visitor to the basement can immediately identify where that area is on my layout - the main yard area. 

Here's a run down of the issues:
1. The White River Junction station is tucked into a reverse corner - and a portion of the platform is actually poking into the south end staging yard in the utility room. 
Issue #1 and #2: The position of the WRJ station. Note how the platform canopy actually ends up under the "hole."

2. The south end staging yard itself  - a stub ended yard that juts into the middle of the utility room. It's always in the way. Since it's an unfinished part of the basement where I do a lot of sawing and sanding and the ceiling is unfinished dust and dirt rain down on the track and the equipment in the yard. It drives me nuts. Enough said. 
Issue #3 and #4: Center of turntable is beyond arm's length in the corner. So operators don't use it since it's hard to see. Also, no room for even a "bas relief" roundhouse. 
3.  To get the position of the turntable and engine servicing tracks in the correct orientation to the WRJ station the turntable ended up in the corner of the room - behind six or seven tracks and more than three feet from the edge of the layout. Guess I should have heeded the advice in the Kalmbach Locomotive Servicing Terminals book to keep the turntable within arm's reach! Whomever wrote that book was brilliant….<g>
4. Because the turntable is shoved in the corner there's little room for a roundhouse or any kind - let alone a decent scale model of one. 
Issue #5: A little hard to tell here but the north yard throat is confusing to visiting operators - and the guy who built it!
5. To get the WRJ station trackage arranged in some semblance of the prototype required the station tracks to start about halfway down the long wall of the yard. In order to get the yard classification tracks to be close to train length meant the yard ladder starts on the next wall and each track curves 90 degrees with a compound yard ladder. Plus not all the yard tracks can be directly accessed from the main or A/D tracks. This overly complicated yard ladder confuses some pretty experienced operators. 

The next two issues are much more aesthetic/design related than the previous two: 

6. To access that staging yard I ended up with a huge slot in the wall - effectively masking and screening it is proving elusive - there's no easy way to hide something so wide. Adding a highway overpass would destroy the composition of the prototype scene. I've tried various ways to "soften" the transition - they work in photos but in person, well, it's tracks going through a hole in the wall. 
7. And this is much more aesthetic - there's lots of "countryside" and "small towns" on the layout - what's missing is a city-like element. Something that contrasts with the pastoral nature of much of the rest of the layout. 

Not sure I have the solutions to these items worked out in my head quite yet, but I've hired a consultant to provide some professional solutions to these problems. Luckily, as the treasury is plenty bare he works cheap!

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Laskey Cabinet

Before he moved to the wilds of southern Virginia Norm Wolf stopped by and dropped off a couple of structures that he knew wouldn't fit on his new apartment layout. One of them was a kit from Scotty Mason called "Laskey Cabinet Co." I liked the basic look of the building, since though it's freelanced it doesn't have some of the downright peculiar features of some of the more "imaginative" kits out there. 
Knowing that it was wasn't prototype Norm mentioned "..if you can't find a spot for it don't worry" or words to that effect. My attitude was this building has one thing going for it most of my other structures don't…it's out of the box and finished!
Haven't spent much time in the layout room this week - lots going on at work and I spent a lot of time in the basement preparing for my clinic at Cocoa Beach so I may have be feeling just a touch of burnout. But spending some time before dinner looking for a place to "plant" this building seemed like an ideal way to ease back into making some progress on the layout. 
I ended up locating it on a siding at the north end of Randolph. 
The structure is in pretty good shape, but the flashing on the office building looks like it's lifted a little - likely a result of a differences in humidity and temperature between Norm's old basement and mine and the change of seasons. So I might have to rework it a little. 
I'm going to let it sit here "unplanted" for a few days and see if it takes root…
Thanks Norm!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Grassing things up

Added about eight linear feet of static grass to the area north of Williams Creek Bridge. I decided the "almost straw" grass colors looked pretty good, but it needed a little something to give it a bunch in a couple of spots - the answer was some bright red Sumac by the embankment. Next step - fence line and telegraph poles. I might add an old stone fence in the woods, almost overgrown by brush, but that will have to wait until after the Cocoa Beach meet. 

I also added some more trees to the ridge behind the Waterbury freight house and feed mill. We arrived in town to catch the sugar maples at their peak - truly "electric maples" - they are the brightest on the layout. (And yes, I know the freight house needs a roof before the winter…!)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Trees, trees, and more trees….

I made some trees over the holiday weekend last week. 
Today I planted some of them. 
The lead photo shows the trees in the transition area between the "peak" colors and the "past peak" colors. 
Next step is some static grass in the foreground. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Rockin' Out?????

 I spent New Year's day rocking out...
Lots of little rocks that is!

I spent a fair amount of time ballasting track - Made great progress, but there's still a bit more to go.
To capture the look of a transition era mainline requires a three stage process -
1. Cinder fill on the sides. After that dries (by the time I worked my way around the layout adding cinders it was time for lunch, and by the time I got back at it the cinders had dried enough to proceed!)

2. Add the gray "rock" ballast to the main and passing sidings (spurs and house tracks get cinders...)

3. Still need to go back and tweak a couple of holidays and other spots.
Got everything ballasted from the north end of Randolph to the south switch in Richmond - I have no idea how many linear feet of track that is, but it's a lot. All that remains is Richmond itself, the south end of Randolph, and the passenger station at White River Junction.  
Only thing that stopped me was I ran out of ballast!
Sorry for the somewhat poor DoF on these photos - I took them with my phone before I left for the office this morning, and apparently my hands were a little shakey from all the "rockin'" I'd been doing...