Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Down By the Old Mill Stream - 3

New stretch of backdrop. The darker row of "trees" along the bottom of the hill are blocked in shadows that still need some additional detail added.  
This trip down to the old mill stream is taking a LOT longer than I originally planned. You'd think that with the Federal government offices (and most of support contractors) in the DC area closed due to the blizzard I would be able to take advantage of an unplanned 4 day weekend and get all kinds of model railroading done. 
You'd think. 
Instead I've actually been working - all weekend - crunching on a major proposal project. So most of these past four days have been spent on the phone and email revising, reviewing, and revising every word in this thing several times over. 
But I did manage to take advantage of those "breaks" in the action - when I was awaiting input from other team members - to break away and head for the layout room. 
The hillsides to the right (the slightly darker ones) have been repainted to add some more tree detail. The section to the left of this photo (also shown above) is new. 
I managed to get some backdrop painting completed - some of it I "completed" twice as I repainted about three feet of backdrop behind the mill stream scene. I also completed about four feet of newly painted backdrop to the left of the mill scene. 
I've gone back and forth on everything with these painted backdrops from the colors to the approach I use to paint them. I'm actually fairly pleased with this latest section - the photograph at the top of this post shows the scene from "typical" viewing distance in the aisle. With three-dimensional scenery in front of it I think it will work fine. 
I even managed to find 30 minutes today to "block in" some if the distant hills and clouds behind the area where the White River Jct. yard and station had been. 
Sky blue, followed by "clouds" and horizon haze and "blocking" in distant hillsides. 
Speaking of this section of the layout, I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to call this scene. It won't be entirely prototype based, since I need a small yard to sort cars for the locals, and I'd like to have a larger "destination" industry. Instead of trying to get a prototype scene to fit this space, instead I'm going to design and build the elements I need for the layout, and fit them into the space as best as possible. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Southern New England PS-1 boxcars - a little background

I recently received this email:

Marty, At Christmas my wife gave me a Kadee box car from the SNE, #48010. I model 1957 so I have a few questions about this. What reweigh stenciling should there be? Would the roof paint be peeling at this point in time? And finally, were these cars used in any specialized service?
SNE 48010 represents one of a class of 200 cars delivered new to the SNE in 1951.

SNE 41912 is from a smaller group of 50 cars ordered from Pullman-Standard in 1954 and were the first cars delivered in the Maple Leaf paint scheme.

Here's my response:

First of all, let me congratulate your wife for her exceptionally outstanding taste when it comes to Christmas gifts!
SNE 48010 would be part of number series 48000-48199 - a group of 200 boxcars ordered in 1947 and delivered in May 1948. Like the CN and CV, the SNE doesn't have specific classes assigned to boxcars, so there were simply "48000-series" cars, and you'll find them referred to as such in company correspondence. They were all delivered with the square herald, green with "Southern New England" monogram to the right of the door with "Southern New England" spelled out to the left of the door above the reporting marks. Kadee did an exceptionally good job on these, and they are quite accurate when compared to photos and paint samples from the prototype cars.
About 50 of these cars are in assigned paper/pulp service - transporting market pulp from integrated and pulp mills in the northern sections of New England to the finishing mills located along the SNE. Considering the nature of the cargo we try to keep them in that service and they're labeled "Clean Lading Only" to the left of the door. They are regularly spotted at mills along the Atlantic Great Eastern - although I've heard rumors they may have been spotted on the Allagash RR as well.
The remaining 150 cars are in general pool service - and can be seen anywhere.
As far as reweigh dates, I use "XA" (St Albans, VT) for many of the cars, but use "XP" (North Providence, the SNE's shops) for most. Of course, some of the cars have been weighed off line at various other points.
Very few of these cars were repainted into their original scheme prior to the introduction of the maple leaf herald in 1954. So, in your 1957 era the cars with the square heralds have been in service for seven years, and the paint on the roofs would certainly have failed in some cases. I'd also say at the very least the cars roofs would be quite dirty.
The maple leaf cars are from one of two groups - the original 48000-series cars repainted into the maple leaf scheme starting in late 1954, or they are from the series of 50 additional PS-1s (41900-41949) delivered new to the SNE in 1954 with the maple leaf monogram. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Down By the Old Mill Stream -2

Before an update on the mill stream proper - 
In Other News….
Stic came by Saturday and we got quite a number of "small, but annoying and necessary" projects ticked off the "to-do" list. This included some work on the fascia, fastening the sub roadbed and homasote in place in Bethel and filling in a few sections that needed plywood to support track. 

The stream gets some color

On the mill stream project I got some time in this weekend getting the rock outcroppings added to the stream bank and finishing up the landform shaping tasks. 
A quick coat of flat black paint in the "watercourse" and some tan paint on the plaster patches between the foam sections help with visualizing the scene. 

The rocks are a combination of Cripplebush rocks and traditional plaster castings. The plaster rocks got a first coat of color in the form of Hunterline stains (Blue Gray, Light Brown, and Sepia Brown) in an effort to cover the glare of the plaster. 
This whole thing looks a little like a hot mess at this stage, but have faith, things are going to start falling into place with the next couple of steps. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Down By the Old Mill Stream - 1

I'm working on the last section of "open country" on the layout - essentially it's the narrow shelf along the wall just south of Randolph. 
At one point, I was planning to add a really long girder bridge on tall piers, but I have at least two other places on the layout that will require such bridges, and frankly wanted something a little different. 
A water-powered mill seemed to offer a nice scenic setting and a chance to include some additional water features. 
Inspiration for this scene came from two places - the Historic American Buildings Survey web site - specifically this listing for Ben Thresher's Mill. The other source of inspiration was from the N scale Androscoggin Central  RR layout I built for the second edition of N Scale Railroading (a book I wrote for Kalmbach). That little layout included a scene with a mill building and falls. Although that was a brick mill building I liked the scene enough that I wanted to include it - or something similar - on this railroad. 
The mill building is an under-construction pre-production kit for the Ben Thresher's mill. Incorporating a water-powered mill into a scene is a bit of a chicken/egg process. You have to have some of the building done before starting the scenery, but you can't get too far along on the building since you have to plant it into the scenery. Essentially, the structure is such a part of the landscape that it's essentially a hill or rock or some other scenic feature…hopefully with square walls! 
I plan to walk through this project in a series of blog posts (it's actually further along than shown in these photos, meaning it will hopefully be easier to update) so if the building suddenly disappears from the scene it doesn't mean I've changed my mind - I've simply moved it out of way!
Before: The scene included a roughed-in stream with the water surface simply painted flat black. I'm glad I didn't spend too much time on the water back when I built the scene, as in the end I found I had to reroute the waterway. I also needed to raise the height of one end of the stream to create a small retention pond area and provide the needed vertical drop for the waterfall. I briefly considered placing the mill building on the aisle side of the river (below left), but that meant the building was too close to the edge of the layout - I wanted this to be set back into the scene. 
After putting the mill building in different positions, I managed to lock down the final position of the structure and mill falls  Putting the mill building alongside the "rough draft" stream meant the structure ended up too close to the front edge of the layout and the falls were simply too narrow to look right.
So I removed more of the riverbank (you can see the pencil line showing the section I removed in the photo above) in order to get rid of the sharp bend in the stream. 
Here's the one-piece foundation
 for the mill building embedded in the ground.

With the stream rerouted and some new foam hills added to build up the river banks, the scene is starting to shape up (above). 
More updates to follow. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year and 5th Anniversary!

First of all, Happy 2016 to all the readers of this blog. 
Technically, the anniversary of this blog is December 17 - I made my first post on that date in 2010, meaning this past December 17 was the 5th anniversary of this blog. 
Sorry the blog has been so quiet for the last couple of months. I ended up with a rather no-notice project at work that consumed (and continues to consume) a LOT of time - so I let the anniversary pass without comment!
But in keeping with what's become a blog anniversary tradition - here are a few numbers - 
For those of you who like numbers here are a few -

On the Second Anniversary* of the blog, December 2012:
Total Views: 44,690
# Followers: 88
Total Posts (2011 and 2012): 90
Average Posts/Week: .86

Third Anniversary, December 2013:
Total Views: 100,000
Total Posts (2011-2013): 175
Average Posts/Week: .89

Fourth Anniversary, December 2014:
Total Views: 186,301
#Followers: 165
Total Posts (All time): 313
Average Posts/Week: 1.5

Fifth Anniversary, December 2015:
Total Views: 288,625
# Followers: 192
Total Posts (All time): 421
Average Posts/Week 2015: 2.0
Average Posts/Week All Time: .61

In case you're curious, here's the Top Ten list of most viewed posts (the number to the right is the total number of unique page views for the year as of December 31, 2015:

Sep 4, 2013, 10 comments
Dec 23, 2010, 3 comments
Jan 15, 2014, 7 comments
Jan 22, 2015, 10 comments
Feb 9, 2013, 1 comment
Aug 4, 2014, 6 comments
Oct 9, 2012, 6 comments

For those keeping score, these are just about the same as last year's top ten. I'm not sure what any of these numbers mean, other than someone seems to be reading this stuff. I don't get hung up on post counts and the like - I also don't practice the "post a day minimum" you hear about in blogging circles. I write a post if I have something to say I think you may find interesting.
Posts dealing with modeling projects and the layout tend to garner the most responses - either through the blog or directly to my email inbox. I'm not particularly suprised many of the posts with the most views are editorial comments on the model railroad hobby as a whole. 
I'm not surprised to see the Track Plan post sitting firmly in the top 10. But I'm amazed that "A Glimpse into my Modeling Past" remains, by far, the single most popular post on this blog. "Prototype Modeling and the blogosphere" and "Clinic Etiquette" both provoked a lot of discussion and response. I think the MicroLux paint post sitting firmly at number 2 is a result of Google searches for Micro-Mark or Micro-Mark paint. I've also noticed that posts that get specific mentions and links on other model railroad blogs definitely impact the number of views a post gets. 
...As for the others, who knows why they've risen to the top.**
I'm particularly pleased at the increase in the number of meaningful comments (there's always been some spam comments, which I eliminate as soon as I find them) I've been seeing on the blog, particularly in the past few months. At this point there's 712 comments - and some of the comments are almost "mini-posts."
I'm not sure why there's been an increase in subscribers to this blog, and an increase in comments, but I think many modelers are using blogs as a replacement for the long-standard "Yahoo" mail lists and the like.
I started this blog to create a diary of sorts that would document the building, rebuilding and operating my home layout. The fact that so many other modelers seem to enjoy it is particularly gratifying.

* There are no stats available for the first year since I didn't include them in the first anniversary post!

** Of course, by including the list of Top Ten posts and associated links here all I've done is guaranteed people will click on them, increasing their total views more!!