Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Southern New England RS-3

As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been working on three different projects over the last few weeks as time, interest, and available materials dictate. 
One of these is to at long last get some of the "orphan" locomotives (I have engines on the layout painted for everything from Reading to B&O to Erie, to Western Pacific…) into more appropriate colors. 
I apply the same rule to the diesel fleet that I do to the steam locomotive roster. 
Locomotives that match a CV prototype get painted and lettered for their prototype (brass steamers, for example, like the 450 in the blog header art). 
But if it's a Bachmann 2-8-0 fleet engine it will get some minor detail enhancements and get painted and lettered Southern New England. 
That's the case with a quartet of Atlas RS-3s that I'm working on. 
Yes, the CV had RS-3s, but they were Phase 3 RS-3s. The Atlas model isn't. 
At this point the engines have had some "CV family" details added - primarily a new horn and bracket, a steam generator stack, lift rings, and a winterization hatch. 
(Unfortunately I ran out of winterization hatches, so I need to find some more or scratch build the things for two of the engines.) 
My hope is I can get these into the paint booth and onto the rails in time for the next scheduled op session. 

Generic Industries - 3

Yes, they need some additional details, some more vegetation, and weathering (and the building supply dealer needs the doors glued in place!) but the scene is starting to come together. 

I'll wrap up this short segment on the "Generic Industries" - follow on posts on final scenic treatment and details and the like will use the names of the industries. For the last couple of weeks I've been diligently working on three projects - rotating from one to another as interest, paint and glue drying time, and time available indicate. So, at the same time I've been working on this project I've been doing some work on the locomotive fleet, and also finishing Derby & Ball. I'll address the "generic industries" scene first. 
Total time invested so far is a couple of evenings and a rainy, muggy weekend day. The payoff is pretty big since a six-foot stretch of the railroad looks much closer to "done" than it did a couple of weeks ago!
A couple of other lessons learned from this exercise:
The American Models factory seemed very undersized when first placed in the scene. I knew it needed to be a little beefier - or it was going into the circular file. 
1. As predicted, the kits I used were sufficiently generic enough that they don't jump out and scream "XYZ Kit" when viewing the scene. At some point I might go back and scratch build prototype-specific structures. In the meantime I've replaced a large open "lot" with something that looks somewhat finished. Goal achieved. 
2. One problem with using kits can be seen in this view. I swear some kits that say "HO" on the box are closer to N scale. I get selective compression. And I get the need for it. When it's a "stand alone" building the fact that it's undersized is not often obvious. But it can be a real problem when you have several actual scale sized structures around it. Or when you spot a boxcar next to it and see the boxcar is bigger than the building! 
That was the case with the American Models kit. The "main" building has great lines and was easy to build. But it looked undersized. Frankly, I was about to pitch it in the trash when I figured I'd see if I could make it just a little bigger. The solution was the line side warehouse from Walthers. I butted it up against the American Models kit and it seemed to make the scale look a little better. I followed this up with a small office building for the "complex" that I'd built from an American Model Yard Office kit I built years ago (back in my MR days???). The color scheme on the office determined the color scheme on the rest of the buildings. 

The Foundry buildings in place. The addition of the Walthers warehouse gives the complex some much needed size. Still need to "plant" the structures and the tree! Then there will be additional details - maybe some more fences, and some additional weathering. 
The color scheme brings up another interesting point. Christine looked at the group of finished, but not detailed buildings, and pronounced the whole rather… 
well "dull" was one of the words used. 
When you marry an artist you better be prepared to hear things like "That's very nice. but it seems monotone and dull … maybe something besides gray buildings?" I got a reprise when I explained the "new" freight house would be red….

I get it - the old two story freight house is "weathered" wood - so it's basically gray. The foundry complex is gray with gray-green trim. And the building supply warehouse is a faded "industrial" green. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

More commentary on photo vs. painted backdrops

In my Getting Real column in the current issue of the online magazine "Model Railroad Hobbyist" I presented a review of how I used a photo to extend the foreground scenery into my painted backdrop. The point I was trying to make was photos can be used in combination with painted backdrops to address things that are harder to paint - roads, buildings, rivers and the like. 
The comment section has become an interesting series of comments on the relative merits of photo or painted backdrops. Kind of like the discussion we had in this post back in December. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Generic Industries - 2

Managed to get the Walther Clayton County Lumber kit painted - roofs have the initial coat of paint but need to be secured in place, as do the doors. In the third photo you can see how much real estate is available for the "second" industrial building. I think the Clayton Lumber kit, which I will finish and detail as a building supply distributor, fits this spot nicely. 

Operating the Virginia Midland

Yesterday had a great time operating Steve King's Virginia Midland in Germantown, Md. 
For many years we've gently kidded Steve for the …uh, "lack" of VM painted locomotives. In fact he ran the railroad for many years with a fleet of undecorated locos, which he jokingly refers to as the "Appalachian Stealth" scheme. 
There is one VM-painted Appalachian Lines locomotive on the roster, shown here. 
Over the last few months Steve has gotten 46 locomotives painted in the VM's own olive green scheme. 
There's even a little bit of scenery on the railroad. 
I was too busy having a great time running trains to do a lot of photo, but I did manage to get a photo in one of the staging yards showing the original VM "paint scheme" (on the left), the Appalachian Lines unit, and the two VM units in the original VM second generation scheme. 
Steve operates the railroad using Timetable & Train Order, which he is an expert at. 
A great time with good friends. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Help name a pair of generic industries

Although I try to look to the prototype whenever possible I find there's times when one needs to take some shortcuts to get from "here" to "there." One example of this is my use of detailed, but otherwise "generic" plastic steam locomotives for the bulk of the motive power fleet. A few finer details than the stock model, a new crew in the cab, a tilted red box on the tender and some weathering go a long way to looking "right" in the layout setting.
Another place where I need to start taking some selective shortcuts is in the structure department. I'm going to be adding some non-prototype specific buildings to the layout in various places. "Fillers" some would call them. I call it "expedient" - if I don't start adding some generic structure kits to the railroad at my current pace it will take years to complete all the structures .... I'm thinking sometime around October, 2354....
Luckily I have a pretty fair collection of structure kits. I even have some "craftsman" kits but those take almost as long, if not longer, than scratchbuilding which kind of defeats the purpose of this expedience thing....
I have one spot that's fairly narrow - between the main line/passing siding and a stub ended spur - and the spur curves slightly.
Although I didn't plan on it, the Walthers Clayton County Lumber kit - as generic as you'll ever see - fits the curved portion of the spur perfectly - so it's going there.
On the rest of the spur we'll add a second set of car spots for a different industry, as yet undecided:
- one possibility is this American Model Builders kit - which I happen to have on hand. Another possibility is a small bulk oil dealer (I have a Grandt Line kit).
There's anywhere from 2-4" between the site for the Clayton County structure and the fascia that can get some vehicles, road, fence, etc...it can even be scenicked to look like it's part of a larger industry that's in the aisle. In other words, this is the shipping and/or receiving "warehouse."
Further down the spur, where I'm thinking the American Models building can be located, there's even more breathing room. 
Now the problem - the structures are generic. But what industries should they represent on the layout?
Another possibility is combining the two of these kits into one "complex." 
No decision made as of yet, but a few possibilities include:
1. A building material distributor of some type - receives lumber, concrete block, bricks, etc....or a "specialized" distributor - plumbing supplies for example.
2. A mill work business - makes and ships some sort of wood components - doors/windows or the like? That seems more like the American Model Builder's Kit.
3. There was a foundry in Waterbury that was in one of the old granite sheds - it made and shipped engine blocks - perhaps the American Model builders one could be dressed up as a small foundry?
4. A metal fabrication shop - receives angle iron and other steel components - fabricates frames, I-Beams etc...
Any thoughts?
BTW, both kits are really nice, decent sized (not overly large, not overly small) structures that don't really show up on a lot of layouts.