Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reworking Waterbury

I haven't posted much in the last two weeks, but that doesn't mean things haven't been moving forward on the layout.  Some of this progress is not all that compelling. I mean, how many posts about putting down flex track and wiring feeders does anyone need? I also did a pretty major cleanup because three friends from our local operating group (Paul Dolkos, Mat Thompson, and Bob Warren) stopped by on the President's Day holiday to see the layout. 

The original track arrangement in Waterbury
relied on commercial turnouts. 
The revised arrangement.
The Waterbury rework I mentioned before is complete. I made these changes so I could more closely match the arrangement of the prototype industries. I’d originally used commercial Micro-Engineering turnouts on the feed mill/freight house siding. But due to the fixed geometry of commercial turnouts I didn’t have enough length to include the feed mill, freight house, the two-story storage building, and the sheds for one of two rail-served retail coal yards.  Starting late last week I reworked the track at Waterbury, replacing the ME turnouts with a handlaid curved turnout that lengthened the siding by more than a foot. This meant I could slide the feed mill to the right as the scene is viewed from the aisle, opening up enough space for the coal sheds and other structures. You can see the before and after photos to the right.  

A few weeks ago I built a hill as a peninsula view divider but the adjustment in the track to slide the feedmill to the right meant the structure was right up against the hillside (I wanted a road behind the mill structure).  So part 2 of the Waterbury rework was to push the hill back, effectively creating more room for the town scene and taking real estate away from the millstream scene on the other side. I did this by removing the trees from the center of the hill, and then cutting the hill in half and carefully separating it from the from the layout base.  

Then I positioned the end of the hill in its new location and patched the gap with plaster cloth. I added some rock outcroppings and applied earth colored paint and basic ground texture.  Once that had dried, I stained the rock castings, added some additional grasses and ground cover, and replaced the trees.  
I like how these efforts opened up the area behind the tracks in Waterbury.  And the longer siding means there’s room to add the coal sheds. All the structures in Waterbury are obviously unfinished, but the templates for the freight house and the attached two-story warehouse show there's room for them, along with the coal sheds, represented here with a small white box. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

More backdrops

On Bernie's last visit he'd been assigned the task of installing the turntable and track in the engine servicing area. Once Bernie finished cutting the hole for the turntable (and a fine hole it is . . .) he begged off laying the track.  Instead I put him to work finishing up some backdrop painting behind the Williams Creek bridge scene (where the river meets the backdrop).  
He also painted about 8 additional feet of backdrop before calling it quits.  The new section of backdrop shows more fall colors than the previous section since the foreground scenery will include trees with some foliage remaining.  Think of it as past peak colors, but before all the leaves are down, and representing a slightly lower elevation down in the valley where the wind hasn't knocked all the leaves off the trees. The tree in the foreground is one of my finished trees he was using to match colors. I think it came out pretty well. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Time Warp?

Bernie came by after work tonight and we managed to get a few things done. He did some more backdrop painting and then, before he left, wanted to get a couple of pictures with his iPhone of the previous backdrop.  The closest train at hand (actually the only one on the layout at the moment) was a CN GP40-2W with a string of "modern"cars.  But, they still look pretty good - even the train needs weathering and the track needs final paint and ballast. 
Is an era shift in the offing? Hardly - but I do enjoy this engine since I remember seeing them when I was kid and thought they were pretty neat!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Graffiti: Model It or Not?

Back in the 1957 Bob Decker went the entire length of the Northern Division taking pictures of every CV building and facility he could – whether or not there was a train in the picture. 
I didn’t notice something interesting about this shot of the Essex Junction, Vt. water tank until I scanned the slide and looked at it on the big screen. Although whether or not to model graffiti is a question faced by modern era modelers, I didn’t think it was an issue for me – after all, I’m modeling the steam era in northern Vermont – hardly the kind of place and time I expected to see any graffiti, even something as innocuous as this particular example on the base of the water tank.  
And this says “Class of ‘50” – and I know Bob Decker took this photo in 1957, so this graffiti was around for a while. So, the question is, whether to include it on the model of the Essex Junction water tank or not. 

Future to the Rescue?

Building rolling stock is perhaps my favorite part of the hobby. Since I profess to like it so much, you shouldn’t be surprised that I think building, painting and decaling a single-color boxcar should not be that much of a challenge. Then I ran into this project – a Missouri Pacific 10-6” 40-foot boxcar.
The origin is one of the Sunshine Models doorprizes from the Naperville Railroad Prototype Modelers shows Martin and Trish Lofton sponsored for years.  Each year, the presenters and attendees staying at the show hotel were presented with a door prize – some are loads, and one year we got a complete flat car, but most have been an assortment of resin details (doors, ends, etc . . .) to convert an injection molded plastic car to some specific prototype or another. I have ten or so of these and they all produce some pretty neat and unusual transition era freight cars.
I constructed this freight car while we were building our present house, so it's the most recent freight car I've built.
The building process went remarkably well.  The door prize parts were installed on an InterMountain 10’-6” AAR boxcar, and I even replaced most of the Intermountain details (ladders, brake rigging and the like) with parts from Detail Associates.  Then I rearranged the brake components to match the prototype (which differed from the stock Intermountain arrangement and fashioned the underbody piping from brass wire.
I photographed the finished, but unpainted car and then sprayed the model with Polly Scale acrylic paint.  Then, like usual, I gave the model a clear gloss coat and applied the decals. I finished decaling and applied the final clear flat overcoat.  I have never had decals silver (leave visible film) as badly as these did. I suspect the issue was the Testors Acryl clear finishes I used. It was the first time I tried using this stuff, and found it left a visible, white, streaky haze. Perhaps I got an old bottle of the stuff.
What a mess.
I put the model aside and built, and rebuilt, the layout.
After all the issues I've been having with the Berry Machine kit, I figured a break to build a freight car was just what the doctor ordered. So I opened the box with the stash of freight cars and guess which one was the first one to greet me?
Great, another problem child!
I studied the model, and figured the basic car was worth the effort to strip and refinish it.  But recently I’d been reading in FineScale Modeler about using Future Floor finish as a decal clear coating. I have some of the stuff, so I figured I had nothing to loose.  If it worked, great, if not, it was just one more layer to strip. I lightly brushed a coat of Future on the sides and left it to dry overnight.  This next morning the silvering had all but disappeared - although the car still had some streaking, but I think that will be easy to hide with some weathering. Once the model is weathered, I'll post a follow up. In the meantime, I think I'll use Future to do the decals on my next rolling stock model.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Building Berry Machine Co. - 2

Work continues on the Berry Machine Co. complex with the boiler house. Like the penstock this second of the three structures included in the kit has some good news and some not-so-good news. 

I glued to the subwalls to the inside of the clapboard walls as indicated in the directions. After prepainting and glazing the windows I stained the walls with alcohol and India Ink, and set things aside to dry.  Once the walls were dry I drybrushed them with craft paint “Parchment” which is a slightly cream-colored off white. I assembled the walls, added the pre-painted corner posts, and got ready to install the subroof. So far, so good. 
 Then, things started going downhill. 
When I placed the roof with the correct amount of overhang on the front of the building, the other end was far too short. Out of curiosity I compared the roof panel to the drawings of the prototype, expecting the kit sub roof to be short. Guess what? It was too long – by a noticeable amount!  That could only mean the building was also too short.  

I also noticed that the two side walls are not oriented corrected.  Interesting, the photo on the lid of the box shows the boilerhouse walls oriented the same as the prototype drawings I have, which is opposite the photos in the instructions.  And guess which pictures I used??
So now I have a too short building with a too-long roof that doesn’t match the photo on the box or the prototype picture . . . Egads!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this. I can live with the walls being oriented incorrectly since I doubt anyone will ever notice once the building is installed on the layout. The roof is another matter.  I certainly need to cut a new roof panel.  I might make the roof from Evergreen corrugated styrene material as I think it will produce a neater roof than the corrugated metal material in the kit. 
Or I might scrap this one and scratchbuild the building from the start.