Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Scenery - Williams Creek

The inspiration for this scene is the prototype photo I bought from Bob's Photos a few years ago. 

Russ Greene at New England Brownstone used the photo to create his plaster abutment kits. The bridges are Micro-Engineering 50-foot deck girders. I wanted to have the river look more like a clear New England stream than a Midwestern or Appalachian muddy river (although this week I know plenty of rivers in Vermont look plenty muddy and murky . . .). 

The sub-base of the river is 1/4" Masonite painted black and covered with a combination of sifted sand, gravel, and Scenic Express "River Bed" gravel. I left some of the black-painted Masonite showing between the rocks to represent deeper areas. I applied a coat of Envirotex, let it set up completely, then painted some tan riverbanks and some green/black areas on top of the Envirotex - again, not covering the surface completely. Once that dried I added a second layer of Envirotex. Since the Envirotex leaves a perfectly flat surface, I've been adding several coats of Min Wax Polycrylic Polyurethene. I think at this point I'm at six coats, and it's just starting to "bubble" a little - which is a bad thing on furniture (MinWax warns against too many coats) since the resulting surface looks rippled and a little like waves. 

I still need to finish this up obviously (the blue tape on the track should be a hint). Still to come:
1. A few more coats of MinWax
2. There are one or two of the background Supertrees that look a little too wavy from the side - they will be replaced with some with straighter trunks.
3. Foliage, undergrowth etc . . . around the base of the piers
4. Adding some electrostatic grass to the embankments
5. The harvested field with the corn shocks (the field is not visible in these model shots)
6. And, obviously, a coat of paint on the fascia. 

.... Oh, and a few more coats of MinWax!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Central Vermont's 42000, 43000, and 44000-series Boxcars

In his latest flyer, Martin Lofton at Sunshine Models announced two different Central Vermont 40-foot single sheathed HO scale boxcars as part of a series of “converted automobile cars.” 
The Sunshine Flyer announcement states “The Central of* Vermont had two series of outside braced auto cars with a 10’ IH, the 41000 series with a door and a half, and the 42000 series with a 12’ double door. The latter were rebuilt into 6’ door cars and renumbered in the 43000 series. The last two series are planned.” 
(* I’ll admit the incorrect addition of “of” to the CV’s corporate name is a pet peeve of mine. The railroad never, officially or otherwise, referred to itself as “Central of Vermont” – it was simply Central Vermont).  
Of course, the actual story of the CV's 42000, 43000, and 44000 series boxcars is a little more complicated. This announcement provided the necessary impetus to unscramble the somewhat convoluted story of these cars.  (The prototype information here is, of course, also usable if you’re looking to build those somewhat long in the tooth Steam Shack/F&C versions of these cars that are likely collecting dust on your shelf. I know they are on mine!) 
The late 1920s were heady times indeed on the Central Vermont Railway.  Across the system, new facilities and bridges were built and older ones upgraded.  The upgrading included new motive power (the 700-series 2-10-4s and U-1-a class 4-8-2s being the prime examples) and a new generation freight cars, the most numerous of which were two classes of single-sheathed boxcars. 

Construction and Components
A total of 500 cars (42000-42499) with two six-foot Youngstown doors, (giving them a 12-foot opening) were delivered new to the CV from Pullman in October, 1929.  The cars were single sheathed Howe truss design with 3-3-3 early Dreadnaught ends. They were all fitted with six foot Youngstown steel doors with Camel hardware, Hutchins roofs, and KC air brakes with Universal lever-and-ratchet hand brakes. The cars rode on cast steel ARA U-section trucks with spring planks and Barber lateral motion bolsters equipped with six springs per side. 
Their 3,705 cubic foot capacity was considered generous for the time. In fact, these cars were close in size to the 1937 AAR car (at 3,713 cubic feet), that wouldn't be built in any quantity for another decade. 
In the mid 1930s, 125 of these cars (CV 42125-42499) were transferred to the Grand Trunk Western, leaving 42000-42124 on the Central Vermont roster. 
In the 1940s the cars were equipped with AB brakes, with many getting Ajax brakewheels in place of the ratchet style brake. 
In the years following the transfer to the GTW, 97 of the 125 remaining 42000-series cars had their roofs raised approximately 4” to accommodate auto loading racks.  The spotting feature of the raised roof was a noticeable deeper flange running along the length of the car at the roofline and a double row of rivets at the top of both ends.  Like most freight car spotting features, once you know to look for this the difference is very obvious. 
If you're keeping score, between the mid-1930s and the early 1950s only 28 out of the original 500 42000-series cars remained on the CV roster in their “as-built” configuration. 
Between 1953 and 1956, a total of 59 (16 original height, and 43 raised roof) 42000-series cars had their auto-loading equipment removed, were rebuilt with single six-foot doors, and renumbered in the 43000-43058 series. 
This car shows one of the "as built" 42000 series cars after it had been converted to single-door and renumbered in CV's 43000-series. Note the "pregnant tapeworm" CV is centered on the door - it never appeared on the body of CV's single-sheathed boxcars despite what some model railroad manufacturers have offered over the years.  

This view of a 43000 series car after it had been transferred to MoW service clearly shows the extension on the end and along the roof line
This car is one of the increased height cars that has been converted to a single door car.  Note the top rail for the former left door is still visible. Also, note the difference in the X brace to the left of the door - it's an angle instead of the hat section bracing used on the original portions of the car. 

Auto racks were removed from all the remaining 42000 series cars by the mid-1960s.  Eight of the 42000-series cars were equipped with special loading devices to ship granite. 
In September 1960 four of the 42000-series cars (2 extended height, and 2 as-built height) were equipped with steam and signal lines for use in bulk mail service in passenger trains and renumbered 44000-44003.  They were repainted CN Green #11 with black roofs, ends, and underframes and had small placards with two small Central Vermont Maple Leaf monograms on the sides.

Not only does this image show two of the converted "head end" cars in their original Maple Leaf paint scheme, it also shows a comparison of the as built (right) and raised roof 42000-series cars. 

In 1963, with the adoption of the CN-family’s famed “wet noodle” logo, the 44000-series cars were repainted, this time with large CV “pregnant tapeworm” logos across both doors.

Paint and Lettering
If readers of this blog would be interested I can prepare a more detailed review of CV paint and lettering schemes at some point in the future. In the meantime I’ll offer these notes for painting the 42000/43000 series cars. 
Trucks and underframes were originally black, although they were repainted the body color as the cars were repainted over the years.  The sides, ends, and roofs of the cars were boxcar red (I prefer to use Badger or Scalecoat CN Red 11 perhaps toned down with some Earth-color paint). All lettering was white on the red cars.  As built the cars were lettered with “Central Vermont” and car numbers in Roman-style lettering.  Later, the now-familiar stacked Gothic lettering became standard.  Originally there were two white horizontal lines, one above the reporting marks and a second below the road number, although these gradually disappeared with repainting over the years. Other than this, admittedly minor difference, the cars remained in this scheme for the rest of their service lives. In the early 1960s, the CV began applying intertwined CV “pregnant tapeworm” lettering across the door(s) . 
Four of the cars were equipped for passenger train service and repainted and lettered as described above. 

HO scale modelers have had resin models of these cars available for years.  They were offered by Steam Shack (and are still available from www.steamshack.com).  Funaro and Camerlengo manufacture these kits for Steam Shack, so they are also available separately from F&C.  F&C/Steam Shack offer four versions of the 42000/43000 series cars – double and single door and original height and raised roof.  Steam Shack does sell a set of decals for the 44000 series “Maple Leaf” passenger scheme, but based on the photo on the Steam Shack website the roundels look oversized. 
As I mentioned at the outset, Sunshine Models has announced the 42000 and 43000 series cars will be released Fall 2011. I’m not sure if the Sunshine Models will be the as-built height or the modified height (or both).  I’ve dropped the folks at Sunshine a note and will update this based on any information I receive from them. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Foreground Trees

August 8, 2013 Update:
I've been getting some questions on the Crepe Myrtle trees, so I added a couple of pictures of the trees in bloom to this post.
One of the trees in bloom:
Here's a closeup of the bloom. When these die off they have to cut from the tree. It's one fall gardening chore I actually like doing!

I want to work on some scenery - for a change of pace from track and wiring and also to have a place to pose some "finished" photos, especially around my bridge scene. The problem was I didn't have any foreground trees. So I decided my "weeknight" project - for those times when I had a few minutes in the evening - would be to build up some leafless deciduous trees. 
Last spring we had a bunch of landscaping done - and we ended up with several Crape Myrtle plants. These flower in the summer, one flower on the end of each branch, and the seed pods and flowers turn brown in the fall. To get the plant to flower again you really need to remove the seed heads from the plant. Here's one of the plants in the side yard - this was taken in late spring.
You can see the seed pods on the dried out bloom below - I kept these cuttings thinking they may make decent tree armatures. They do, but it takes a little bit of trimming. Of course, the seed pods have to be removed and the "droopy" ends of the branches need to be trimmed off as well.

Here's the "stripped" armature - ready to have the finer branches added:
I used the pieces of the fine Super Trees sold by Scenic Express applied one at a time and secured in place with hot glue - much easier than the CA I used to use to build up trees. I always ended up with little bits of SuperTrees on my fingers!!
Here's a tree just about ready for the paint shop (I'll paint them primer gray with a dusting of "Camo Brown" on the ends) - On this one I also plan to remove that oddball branch on the bottom.

I don't plan to make forests of trees this way. This is strictly for foreground "specimen" trees. But I'm pleased with the way the Crepe Myrtle branches make the trunk and main branches look more robust and the Super Tree foliage adds the finer branch structure. I've made about a dozen of these in the last week of evenings - which should be more than enough to scenic the bridge scene. That's tomorrow's project.