Thursday, December 21, 2017

Richford Branch Maps 4 - Enosburg Falls

Another Richford Branch town map, this time for Enosburg Falls. The CV List of Industries page for Enosburg Falls is shown in the second image. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

7th Anniversary!!

December 17th marks the seventh anniversary of this blog. In keeping with what has become a blog anniversary tradition, here are a few numbers, going back to December 2012 (first month I actually took notice of these statistics!):
I started this blog to create a diary of sorts that would document the building, rebuilding and operating my home layout.That layout was torn down last summer since we're in the process of building a new house. Preliminary planning for the new layout is underway, and I expect that will be a frequent subject on this blog in the coming months. 
I'm surprised, thrilled, and more than a little humbled at how many people read (and I hope enjoy!) following my little corner of the model railroad internet. 
As of today, there's a total of 526,175 unique page views!. The top all time posts** are shown below:

* 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!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Think Layout’s Lifetime, not Lifetime Layout?

Imagine the outcry if the U. S. Navy announced it was going to start building a ship that it had no intention of finishing. Or if you hired a contractor to build a house only to be told “I’m not planning to complete this house - ever.” 
But a project without a defined end point and clearly stated goals is often the most lauded of model railroad brass rings – the “lifetime layout.” 
As best as I can tell, the concept of a “lifetime layout” is unique to North American model railroading. Normally perceived as a huge “basement filler” such projects are at once the envy and source of ridicule by our British cousins. 
Here’s the rub. While they certainly can take decades to “complete” I make no direct correlation between lifetime layout and “basement filler.” If you’re determined, work at a reasonable pace, know precisely what you want, have the desire and perhaps an army of friends at the ready, then yes, a massive “basement filler” can be constructed. I’ve seen it done many, many times so to discount it as “impossible” is simply not realistic. 
The flaw with the concept of the lifetime layout is the way it’s often espoused as the never ending project. There’s no destination for this journey, no definition of “finis.” 
Maybe instead of striving to start construction of a lifetime layout we should instead define the layout’s lifetime?
If you plan to live in your current residence for five years, does it make any sense to start a project that realistically will take 15 years to finish? I’d argue if you’re going to be in that house for five years plan a project you can finish in two. That way there’s a finished model railroad that the whole family can be proud of in the house for a couple of years – rather than a perpetual construction site. 
For my new layout I'm assuming a lifespan of 8-10 years. That number isn’t something I pulled out of thin air. Based on a variety of factors, I hope to retire in 8-10 years. Here’s the caveat – at that point we will either opt to stay in this new house (that would be our preference) or we will sell the house and move … to ??? Either way, it would seem to be a logical time to start a new layout. 
What about getting the railroad finished? I want to have the basic layout infrastructure (not all the buildings and scenery mind you but things like the benchwork, track, wiring) complete in 2-3 years. 
What I have done is bounded the project with some parameters. I have a pretty good sense of how much layout I can build in a year – keeping my 2-3 year timeline in mind defines the scope of the project. 
Disclaimer – the new basement is certainly large enough that I could embark on construction of a “basement filler” – but other factors besides available square footage should also considered as part of the planning process. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Avoid getting caught in the detail trap

Recently I attended a corporate retreat day where one of presentations that stuck in my head was titled “How to Measure Progress: Moving Forward Toward the Big Picture vs. Getting Caught up in the Details.” Quite a mouthful, but I immediately thought of model railroading. The instructor opened with a quote – not from a business tycoon or marketing giant, but an artist:

 “Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.” ― Georgia O’Keeffe

This is often described as a golden age for model railroading. Never have we had it so good. We get detailed models, fresh out of the factory that reflect even the most minor differences between prototypes. 
I’ll never forget when I was at Intermountain and we released the D&RGW version of the N scale SD40T-2. (Yes, some N scalers will recall the first run of the model had some teething pains, but that’s not the point of the story). 
I’ll never forget the phone call I received a couple of weeks later from an irate (I mean really ticked off) modeler who sounded like he was about to have a coronary on the phone as he described the source of his angst: 
“The jacking pads are the wrong shape on the SP tunnel motors. I’ve bought six of them, now I have to return them. And you <expletive deleted> SOB… now that you’ve ruined them no one will ever make them.”
“Excuse me,” I said, “the jacking pads?” 
“Yes, the <f@#$ing> jacking pads. On the SP the tops are rounded – you <f@#%ers> did the Rio Grande ones and they’re squared off but you’re selling them as prototypical for the SP!!!”
This went on for what seemed like an eternity – I knew nothing was going to make this guy happy. At first I decided maybe he just needed to vent. After a while I almost started hoping for the aforementioned coronary to put him out of my, and what was clearly his, misery. For the record what he was referring to was the representation the metal stamping on the ends of the jacking pads located above the trucks of the sides of the jacking pads – the shape was less than 1/64” of inch. No one, and I mean not one person, ever commented on the shape of the jacking pads after that. But clearly it was important to him. 
If that guy – who never mentioned his name – is reading this I’m sorry I ruined your enjoyment of the hobby. (And I almost mean that seriously.)
I bring this up to illustrate how we need to pick and choose which details we emphasize.  
Models are, at their very essence, representations of a real object. Locomotives are big, heavy objects. Shape or form, color, and perhaps some use of light and shadow (“weathering”) to impact a sense of mass can be far more important to create the impression of a hard working piece of machinery than fretting over any individual minor detail.   
In the context of a model railroad layout that entire locomotive is just another element. Just as a painting is made up of numerous brush strokes, the layout is comprised of numerous "micro details." That locomotive, the track, and each car, structure and trees, are each “micro” details – that combine to create the “macro” item – a model railroad layout. 
True artists have the ability to capture the essence of a subject in their chosen medium. And in some cases, less is more. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

On second thought . . .

Sunday afternoon I had the chance to actually measure the new basement. I wasn't surprised that the actual dimensions with the walls framed out had changed somewhat from the estimates the builder had given us a few weeks ago. The revised floorplan can be found in the link just below the header. 
This task meant I spent about 45 minutes in the basement, and during that time I couldn't help but feeling that the "branchline" scheme I've discussed - a layout inspired by the CV's Richford Branch - would be a much better fit for the space than going through the process of attempting to fit, and refit, several of the mainline towns into the space. I think the resulting layout would always seem just a little too cramped. 
But just because its a branch doesn't mean the curves won't be fairly broad. 
And note I said "inspired by" - the goal here is not a tie for tie duplicate - a good thing since I simply have no idea what some of the buildings actually looked like. If I can determine what they looked like I'll model them accurately. Otherwise, I'm going to draw inspiration from other places along the CV to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. 
Things are starting to come into focus. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

CV List of Industries and Facilities Located at Stations

Ten or 15 years ago Jim McFarlane and I were going back and forth by email - I was asking Jim if the railroad maintained a central list of customers. My purpose was to determine what industries were in specific towns along the line. Jim was thinking I wanted a list of all the customers who shipped via the railroad - which would have numbered in the thousands (he was thinking of each less than carload or LCL shipment as a "customer"). No matter, there was no "master list of customers." 
A few weeks later an envelope appeared in my mailbox with three documents and a short note from Jim reading "Marty, is this something that answers your question?" 
What Jim had sent me was three copies of a document called "List of Industries (Served by Private Sidings) and Facilities Located at Stations on the Central Vermont Railway and Montpelier and Barre Railroad." Quite a mouthful! (the exact title apparently changed over the years!)

One was from 1945, one from 1959, and the third from 1965. 

A page from the 1945 book is shown below: 
The 1959 book is a little different. Each page contains a list of individual railroad customers who were responsible for maintaining a siding or some portion thereof. Included was the name of the customer, a brief description of the type of business ("Feed mill", "Manufacturer of xxx" etc ...), and the length of track (right column in view below) that customer was responsible for maintaining. 

Keep in mind when the list reads "Siding length 50-feet" that does not mean there's a dedicated 50-foot long spur off the main - it merely means that particular customer was responsible for paying for the upkeep of that length of track - quite often there would be several customers located along a single siding, with each customer responsible for the maintenance of a certain portion. 
The listing also indicates the customer's name - I believe it's whomever the railroad would bill for the service. In the Enosburg Falls listing above, "Issac Brown" is shown as a Retail Petroleum Dealer with a siding length of 40 feet. 
Look on a map of Enosburg Falls and you'll note there's an oil dealer - Standard Oil Co. of New York - located on the double ended siding across from the depot. The engineering department plats make no reference to "Issac Brown." I'm fairly certain he was the owner, or at least the manager, of the Socony dealership in Enosburg Falls, Vt. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Design Questions We Should Be Asking

The weekend before Thanksgiving I was able to join in two model railroad social events. Saturday evening we had a nice dinner at Grafton Street Pub in Gainesville. Friday night Mat Thompson hosted what seemed to be just over 50,000 model railroaders* at a BBQ buffet at his house – Mat just became Master Model Railroader #595 – so an appropriate cake was on hand to mark the occasion. 
Along with this second cake featuring some of Mat’s scratchbuilt models… (okay, not really!) 
Some folks – the vast majority of the out of town folks who were at these events – hadn’t heard my layout had been torn down. Once they got over the initial shock the inevitable questions about the “next” layout started. 
At dinner I shared a table with a number of well known – some very well known – model railroad authors, operators, and layout owners. The conversation went something like this:

“So Marty, how big is the new basement?” 
Well, the basement is pretty big, but we want to use the space for purposes other than model railroading – but there’s still a decent size layout area. 

“Oh, so how big is this “land grant” that your wife is giving up (wink, wink!)? 
I wouldn’t say “giving up." Chris is perfectly fine with the hobby. But the layout area I’m looking at is about a third of the basement - 16 x 44 feet – completely open on one long side. Seems to be a logical place for the layout that won’t interfere with the other uses for the room.

Oh… Okay, 1/3rd of the basement … so 16 x 44 – guess that’s not too bad.”
While I’m going to come up with a design for the “complete” layout in the entire space I’m seriously considering starting with one “interest area” and completely finishing it before starting the next town. So next time you guys are down here the layout might be no larger than, say, an 8 x 12 foot L-shape in one corner of the room.

Mind you, this was accompanied by a look that made me check the large wall of mirrors on the other side of the room to verify that yes, indeed, a third arm had appeared out the side of my head. 

Yeah, but it will be finished, operational, and completely scenicked. And, if that proves sufficient to meet my needs I may not ever fill the rest of the space with model railroad.

“Oh. I see. Pass the salt.” 

I relay this tale not to single anyone out. In fairness, with one exception, everyone at that table has built one or more large basement filling layouts – and their main interest in the hobby is operating said layouts (after all, they'd braved D. C. traffic to go operating the weekend before Thanksgiving). 

I mention this discussion to illustrate how we, as model railroaders, very often ask the wrong questions – especially in the early stages of designing a new layout. Consider the very first questions most of us often ask: 
  • How big is the space?
  • What are you modeling? (this can be broken down into subcomponents such as era, prototype, etc)
  • How many levels?
  • What locomotives do you need? Who makes them?
  • How many staging tracks will you have?
  • How many operators? 
Some of these are perfectly fine, but it's far too deep of a dive into specifics far too early in the design process. 
Let me suggest the following questions the next time one of your model railroad buddies announces he’s planning a new layout: 
  • How much time, energy, and money do you want to devote to this project?
  • How long will you be living in this house? Really, another way of asking “How long will this layout be around?” 
  • Are you going to have formal op sessions?**

See the difference? 

I plan to offer my answers to the second set of questions on this blog. Frankly, if the other dinner guests had asked those type of questions my planned approach would have made a lot more sense to them. Instead, it came across as I was squandering a wonderful opportunity to fill yet another basement with lumber. 

* The attendance numbers may be off, but there were a lot of people there. Great fun though!
* *I know it's heresy to say so, but there are some model railroaders who simply have no interest in hosting formal, multi-person op sessions. And if that's the case, it can significantly impact the layout design. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Minimum Radius for Division Point 2-10-4?

As I was talking through the possibilities of a "mainline" layout design with Bernie Kempinski at lunch the other day I mentioned that one requirement of any mainline layout would be the ability to run this thing. This "thing" is a Central Vermont T-3-a class 2-10-4 imported by Division Point about a decade ago. 
I was so enamored with it that I sold my two "old school" PFM 2-10-4s. Yes, this model is more accurate than the PFM model, but honestly if I'd known how much of curve hog these engines were going to be I would have kept my PFM models and lived with the compromises. 
I was going to use the money  to purchase this model when my bride surprised me with one as an anniversary present. 
Since that day I occasionally get asked if I'm going to run my "nice" engine. 
When asked how it runs I also answer honestly - it runs great... in a straight line. 
Curves are a real challenge with this thing. 
A combination of flanged driving wheels, long wheelbase, outside frame on the trailing truck that has components tucked inside the ashpan, not to mention the full diaphragm between the locomotive and tender and you have a recipe for a curve hog of immense proportions. 
I've actually never been able to determine this things real minimum radius (the importer claimed something like 30" or some such!) - on the old layout it would almost get around a 34" radius curve - the drivers would normally lift about halfway through the curve and the trailing truck was truly hanging up. 
For the track plan we're sketching I'm assuming that 48" curves should work. I have place in the apartment to test the engine on a curved section of track.
 That all leads to the reason for this post - does anyone have experience getting one of these beasts successfully around a curve? 
And if so, what radius? 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lighting Considerations

Seeing the photo of the "restored" basement in my previous post reminded me of just how few light fixtures I had in the basement ceiling.  
Yes, I know there are exceptions, but I've seen more than enough model railroads lit with nothing more than a couple of bare bulbs on a pull chain fixture to know how little we as model railroaders think about lighting before starting a layout. 
I thought there was sufficient recessed can lights situated over the planned layout when I started. Remember, the railroad was planned and built as a double-deck layout. I lit the upper level with the aforementioned installed can lights (equipped with daylight LED bulbs) over the railroad and the lower deck with a seemingly endless string of thin profile (and pricey!) under-cabinet light fixtures. You can see the result by looking at the lower deck to the left of Bernie: 
The result was sufficient and even lighting for both decks but when I removed the upper deck the layout suddenly looked dark - those can lights just weren't shedding enough light on things, and the backdrop wasn't helping. 
Early shot of the peninsula under existing light. At least Jeff's sneakers are visible!
So I installed two-tube fluorescent light fixtures, wiring them to the recessed can light fixtures. Over time I added more and more lights where I could (being careful not to exceed the capacity of the circuits). 
Again under existing light. The fluorescent light fixtures were an improvement! 
They certainly shone sufficient light on most of the railroad, but there were still places where the layout was noticeably back-lit - especially in Waterbury. 
The aisle-side wall of the cannery in Waterbury was always buried in shadow.
The problem was the lights were over the peninsula and the finished ceiling (to the left of the peninsula in the overall view above) encased some duct work, resulting in a kind of valence that cast shadows and caused some extremely noticeable back-lit areas in spots.  
A few weeks before I took Christine out shopping in Gainesville (a trip that included "let's take a look at those new houses ...")  I'd actually purchased an LED track light fixture - and planned to install it over the aisle just in front of Waterbury to see if that addressed the back-lighting problem.  
I never installed the track light (it's currently packed up in storage) - but I'm determined to avoid some of the cobbled together solutions from the previous layout. 
As we approach the rough wiring phase of the new house project I've been thinking about layout lighting. Three considerations: 

(1) Making sure there's sufficient, even light 
(2) Ensuring the fixtures are placed to prevent, or at least minimize back-lighting
(3) Distance from the light fixture to the layout.

To address the first two, I'm having the builder install extra can lights over the layout area - but I have a feeling they won't be sufficient. At least know how to get more light onto the center of the layout, although this time I'm going to use some better looking fixtures and try to arrange them with some sort of order so they don't look quite so hodge podge. 
Some of the local guys have had some luck with strip LED fixtures - these pump out huge volumes of light, weigh practically nothing, and stay cool. I might even be tempted to play with adjusting the colors of the LED fixtures to produce nighttime effects -  ("Moonlight in Vermont"?). Not unlike this layout (left) from the Portland NMRA National.
 I'm also placing a number of can lights above where I think the layout aisles will be - hopefully that will address the back-lit problems - and if not at least they'll be sufficient connection points to hard wire other light fixtures. 
Item #3 is a unique one for tall basement ceilings - ours are nine-foot ceilings - so the light has be strong enough to actually reach the layout surface!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Move out complete - 1/2 there ...

I snapped this picture Tuesday night just before I turned off the lights for the last time:

You can't even tell there was a model railroad in here just a few months ago. 
It's been a crazy week of moving the last few items out of the house and into the apartment (if you've ever wondered how much stuff you can cram into a small apartment, the answer is a lot more than you might think!). Wednesday morning we closed escrow on the house, turned over the keys and were feeling pretty good about things. 
That is until our realtor sent us a note thanking and congratulating us, adding "just think, you're half way through the move!"
Ugh, that's right - we still have to move out of the apartment and into the new house. I suspect that will be less of a hassle - we've learned in the last six weeks that we're too old and set in our ways for apartment building life.  
In the meantime, I'll stop the moving and new house updates on here since they're not really model railroad related. 
I will, if anyone is interested, write about the layout design process. 

Blog Notes: 
After considering what to do with this blog I've decided to keep it pretty much as is for now. 
I spent some time the last couple of evenings adding a "Manassas Layout" label to any post that was specific to the old layout. I also deleted any truly outdated posts (things like "I'm having an open house this weekend ..." etc. ) To see every post on the layout I was building, and rebuilding, from 2009 until now, click on the "Manassas Layout" label at the bottom on this post. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

New railroad = New Blog???

One of the first photos on this blog - almost eight years ago. Time for a fresh start? 
As I start (in earnest) the process of planning and eventually building my new layout I wonder if I should put this blog aside and start a new blog, one either focused on the new railroad or a more general "modeling" blog. 

  • I started this blog in December 2010, as I was starting construction of the layout. So this blog has always been about that layout.
  • I don’t want readers seeing posts and photos from the old layout and confusing them with the new railroad.
  • There’s something to be said for a fresh start. 
  • I've learned a little about blogging in the last 8 years - to the point that I cringe at some of the earlier posts. A new blog would make it easy to implement those lessons. 
  • Currently I have three blogs, although I really only update this one on a regular basis. 
A new look for a fresh start? 
Why Not?
  • This is an “established” blog – with a 8-year history and over 500,000 unique visits.
  • People know where to find it, and therefore, me.
  • Starting a new blog may require more effort and time than I want to devote to it at this point. 
Another approach would be to not tie the blog to any one prototype or layout and instead to create a new, more generic "My Model Railroading Blog" (obviously the title needs some work). 
That way if the next layout, or the one after that, is based on some other prototype/region of the country it wouldn't seem odd to have a Carolina railroad described on a blog with the "centralvermontrailway" in its URL. 
I could simply retain this blog and cull through the old posts and photos to remove those specific to the old layout (photos of benchwork and the like, such as the one shown above!), retaining the true modeling, prototype information, and photo posts. 
But that sounds a lot like effort.
Just something to contemplate on a dreary Thursday. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

New Basement Footprint

NOTE: I've added this drawing to a separate page (see tab directly under blog header). Ultimately that tab will include the track plan for the new layout. 
After the previous post discussing moving walls and the like I realized it might help put things in context if I shared the diagram of the new basement. So below is a drawing showing the key elements of the basement in the new house, with approximate dimensions. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Catching Up and a Quick Side Trip to "The Curve"

Perhaps I should title this post “Catching my breath” – since it’s been a whirlwind three weeks or so since my 14 October update. (Well, I have done a couple of Wordless Wednesday posts, including one showing exciting shots of basement walls without a house attached!). Happily that's changed - see photo below. 

Out with the old
As I’ve mentioned previously we moved into a small apartment at the end of September, and put the house on the market fully intending for it to be a few months, at least, before it sold. We had an offer in less than two weeks, from a couple who wanted – no needed – to close on 15 November. Naturally, we accepted the offer but we've had to go from the "we have 3 or 4 months" mindset we were in to "we have less than a month!" 
It’s been a whirlwind of negotiations, inspections, dealing with the items we hadn’t moved out of the house – yet – and the like. Some of which have gone smoothly, others... let's just say I'll have to tell you over a cold one some time. 
I’m thrilled to report as of today everything is still on track to close on the 15th – and fingers crossed – once we get past that milestone we can focus on the new house. Which is a good thing since ....

You’ve got to watch them… 
Like a hawk. Builders that is. 
When we signed the contract for the new house we included a finished basement (it was an option at a price that would be impossible to meet if we’d waited to have it done by another contractor after we moved in). The builder has a “standard” way he finishes the basement, but you can (for a price) add to the finished square footage. The standard basement includes three unfinished “storage areas” – I opted to use one of these for household storage, one that will become my model building shop and the third – well, the third seem superfluous so I paid the extra coin to have it finished, specifying that it not be a separate room but instead should be part of the main “family room.” And, since there no wall between the storage room and powder room the basement powder room wall was supposed to shift about 12 feet to the right. 
All was well and good – until last week when I stopped by and noticed the rough plumbing for the powder room was located in the same place as that wall that we'd eliminated. Meaning a few pipes would just be jutting up into the middle of the finished basement. 
A quick call to the sales agent produced a run around about how they knew what they we’re doing, the pipes were in the right place, etc… I might not know much, but I can look at a diagram and walk off basic measurements. 
I called them since I figured it was something they’d want to fix now as the basement floor hadn’t been poured. 
A message was delivered to the site supervisor, who was on vacation that day. Turned out that later that same day a cement truck poured the basement floor. 
The next day the builder acknowledged the error – it was a case of the plumbers coming in and putting the pipes “where they always go…” 
A jackhammer and a second visit from the plumber fixed the problem… but you really need to watch these guys…sometimes they seem to go so fast they get ahead of themselves. 

A Little Time Off
Despite the craziness I managed to take a couple of days this past weekend and Stic and I headed up to the Finescale Modelers Expo in Altoona, Pa. Although there were some fine models on display, I would have to say the clinics as a whole were not as good as other meets I've attended (I might have more to say on that at some point in the future). The models on display, even those a little fanciful for my taste, were outstanding examples of craftsmanship - I especially liked this O scale diorama - the various elevations and the way the buildings and trees were arranged created some neat vignettes. 

I even managed to find a couple of things to purchase in the dealer room - most significant of which was a couple of BEST Trains kits. I have a number of these, including the now famous "barn in the curve" from the previous layout. I like them because I think they are reflective of typical New England architecture (mostly because they are based on real structures) and are only minimally "compressed."

Highlight of the trip was a visit to the Altoona Railroaders Museum, followed with a visit to the Horseshoe Curve. The weather was outstanding and the colors were just at or slightly past peak - and Norfolk Southern was keeping the rails polished. Well worth the trip. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Building Thresher's Mill - Addressing disparate materials and critiques

I’ve been trying to find a few minutes each day to make progress on Ben Thresher’s mill. I’ve also been posting photos of my progress on a couple of forums devoted primarily to craftsman structure kit modelers. Model railroading is really an umbrella for a number of widely divergent hobbies and interests – ranging from organizational politics (ie., the NMRA) to historians, to more traditional skill-related subsets such as electronics, carpentry, rolling stock modeling, and yes, craftsman structure building. 
I normally prefer to work in styrene, even when depicting frame structures. While I’ve certainly built wood models before I believe there's always room to improve one’s modeling and try different techniques. 
A few days ago I posted the following photo on both forums: 

and it wasn’t long before I received comments pointing out an issue. While the walls look good, those windows look newer, and freshly painted, compared to the wall. 
I could almost sense the hesitation from people posting these comments – like they didn’t want to come across as too harsh or seem to be one of those dreaded “nitpickers.” Actually, I welcome valid criticism. After all, I’d posted the photos on a forum for structure builders in order to learn and improve my techniques. 
I think the real issue is the windows looked, not like weathered painted or stained wood, but like painted plastic – which is exactly what they are. Placing them atop the weathered wood walls only accentuated the disparity in the two materials. 
I’m not at the point - yet - of scratchbuilding HO windows from stripwood. But I knew I had to do something. But what? Surely experienced craftsman structure builders have encountered this issue. How do they address it on their models? 
Luckily some folks offered not only the comment but added a path forward. One such suggestion: 

“… the windows just need a little weathering. Some A/I, or a light wash of black acrylic. You could also do a little scraping with a dull blade or a finger nail sanding stick...Overall it is looking very good.”

That’s precisely what I did – I got out of the fiberglass eraser and was a little more diligent in my scraping. I even dug a dull used Xacto blade out of the “sharps” container and used it to gently scrape a few areas of stubborn paint. Once the scraping was done, I used a small brush to carefully paint some Hunterline A/I stains in various grays and browns and allowed that to dry overnight. Last night I used a small stippling brush to rub – almost scrubbing - an assortment of red, brown, and gray Bragdon powders into the plastic windows. 
Finally, I'd received a couple of suggestions to darken the walls just a little more - so before I glue the windows in place I added another application of Hunterline Blue Grey wash to walls. This also helped the "weathering" on the walls, and the nail heads, pop. 
The result is shown below. 

Time to start assembling the clapboard onto the subwalls. 

Couple of lessons learned so far: 
1. The fact that I’d already glazed the windows made the additional weathering a little more problematic. In the future, weather the windows completely before glazing.
2. Priming the window castings in a wood tone will add one more layer of color to reveal with the scraping and buffing technique. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017 house, old house

I don't know if it's some sort of omen (and if it is I hope it's a good one!) that the same day we signed the contract to sell our old house (closing middle of next month - provided all goes well!) construction started on our new house. 
I went by yesterday to see if anything was progressing and the footers were being poured - and the house "kit pack" - essentially the precut lumber for the house and the floor "decks" were being offloaded from a series of flatbeds. No, I didn't try to measure the outline of the basement walls...I didn't have my tape measure with me (or my boots!) 

Friday, October 13, 2017

About that mill building

The mill building that's currently sitting on my modeling desk is a pre-production set of parts for a kit based on a prototype in Vermont commonly called "Ben Thresher's Mill." Photo shows the subwalls and foundation mocked up on the old layout.
More details can be found in this post.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A quick update

Some of you have emailed asking for an update on the move, sale of our old house, construction of our new home, etc...
Briefly, our old house officially went up for sale two weeks ago tomorrow - we have received an offer, and are currently going back and forth with the potential buyers... anyone who's ever sold or bought a house will appreciate how much fun that can be! But I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll end up with a successful deal. (Someone told me once that a successful deal is one where all parties end up just a little disappointed with the outcome...)
Since we plan to sell the house well before our new one is completed, we rented a small apartment and moved just enough furniture, clothes and the like to make it work. I also brought along my modeling desk, and am planning to spend some time working on bench projects until the new house is done.
Speaking of the new house, construction has officially started - the excavators were hard at work yesterday, and we've graduated from being the proud owners of an expensive pile of dirt and rocks to being the proud owners of a really big hole.
I don't know where all the extra dirt went and don't care. It was great to see progress after several months of planning, permits, prepping the old house for sale, and the like.
On the modeling front, I plan to work on several half-started projects, including some resin freight cars. I also dug out the parts for this mill building, which will be the first project I work on in the temporary modeling shop a.k.a. the apartment dining room.
Before we moved, I added indentions for nail heads to the clapboards, roughed the walls up, stained them, and gave them a coat of paint. I also painted a lot of windows. The first step was to dig all the pieces out of the shoebox they were stored in and make sure everything was still there! 

The basic process I used to finish the walls is common with builders of craftsman structure kits (Finescale Miniatures, South River Model Works and the like). Frankly, I've not tried to use these techniques in years - and I really don't have that much experience with them. I'm going for a "rundown, but not dilapidated" look - a building that definitely needs some TLC but isn't about to be condemned.
I'll let you be the judge. Here's a closeup of one of the walls:

Then I started staining and highlight painting the New England Brownstone stone wall castings - some of these will serve as the foundation walls, others I plan to use as part of the mill dam.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Milepost .5 Million

I was checking the blog this morning, something that I haven't been able to do for almost a week, when I noticed the "Views" counter had tripped over the half-million mark sometime over the weekend. Even Beauregard was excited to hear the news! (actually, he never looks excited about anything...)

For the record I had nothing to do with putting this hat on my dog...
So, I thought a quick blog post was in order to (1) Let you know we're still alive and kicking and, most important, (2) Thank everyone for their interest in my scribblings. 
To say it's been crazy month would be an understatement - I will post a more complete update on where we are, how the new basement (house) is coming along, etc... 
First I need to catch my breath.