Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Feed Storage Shed for Enosburg Falls

I built this model about a little more than year ago (I think!). I thought I'd described it on the blog but apparently had never posted this! 

After completing the seemingly never ending build of the farm supply dealer I was looking for a simple and quick project - and this feed warehouse kitbash of a couple of cheap plastic kits fit the bill! 

The branch through Enosburg Falls, Vermont featured a string of sheds, warehouses, and the like alongside the track from east of the freight house to the Pleasant Street crossing. 

I know these structures were there since they appear in some early photos of Enosburg Falls, and are included on railroad and Sanborn Maps. In this map the Enosburg Falls freight house is marked "Express" - the building that's the subject of this project is the Feed Store to the right of it. 

As is often the case with non-descript buildings such as these while I know they were there I have no way of knowing what they looked like. 

So, imagine my surprise when I was reviewing an old "Central Vermont Railway in Steam" DVD and saw a shot of the Richford local working Enosburg Falls. This was a short - one or two seconds at best - clip. But I rewound the DVD and took the following photo of the television screen with my iPhone.  

The quick screen capture from a video that inspired this build. (It's all about the sign!)  

One of those warehouses is visible to the left. Of course other than showing the building was wood (well weather clapboard) and had some sort of "tarpaper" or membrane roofing, there's not much to go on to create a detailed model. 

The list of industrial sidings in Enosburg Falls does show a Wirthmore Feeds dealer - and this structure has a bright yellow sign that appears to be the trademark colors and style of lettering of Wirthmore - so it doesn't seem to be much of a leap to figure this must be that building. 

I didn't want to spend a lot of time and effort guessing what the building looked like - only to invest time building a model that was likely going to be wrong. A generic well-weathered clapboard building with that trademark sign on the peak of the roof would let me quickly cross something off the "to do" list.  

That makes this a perfect candidate for a kitbash. 

I started with two Walthers Co-Op Storage Shed kits (part 933-3529). I cut the molded on vertical corner trim from the end of the long walls in one kit, and cutting the long walls in a second kit just slightly longer than half.  The result was a building that just about a little more than 1.5 times the length of original building with three warehouse doors on each side. I  carefully "lifted" a few of the clapboards to give some additional character to the siding. 

I could see from the prototype photo the doors are inset - so I cut some rectangles larger than the door openings from scribed siding. I put the doors aside until they were painted and weathered with the main structure. For variety I used one or two of the doors that came with the kit. Frankly I wish I hadn't - those doors are the worse looking parts in the kit. 

I gave the entire building a dark gray primer coat and drybrushed white and "linen" craft paint in the direction of the clapboards. I gave the doors the same treatment before installing them. 

I made a new subroof from .040" styrene and added tarpaper roofing from the scrap bin (I think it was originally from Branchline). 

The signs started with some Wirthmore artwork I found on the internet. During a Zoom call a few months ago Brett Wiley, who was on the call, took pity on my efforts at creating the sign and in the course of 20 minutes during the call created the rooftop sign for me!

I wanted to have some feed sacks stacked on the loading dock, and perhaps in the bed of a farmer's pickup. I started with Tichy feed sacks, but even after painting them they didn't look right. So I found photos of Wirthmore feed sacks on the internet, reduced them to HO scale (or at least the size of the Tichy feed sacks!) and glued them to the plastic sacks. 

Sanded tile grout for the road, cinder ballast, sifted dirt and tan tile grout for the soil, and some static grass and the scene was basically completed. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Hindsight 2020 10.0

 The virtual Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet (Hindsight 2020 10.0) has announced the lineup of presentations and presenters. Here's the flyer and the particulars on how to register etc, ... :

There's some great clinicians and clinics on the docket. And of course, me.... 

I'll be offering my "Modeling the October Scene" clinic. I was shocked to find the last time I'd presented this particular clinic was back in 2016 - five years ago - so I've taken this opportunity to update some of the content. I'm also using this clinic deadline as a motivating factor to add the "second layer" of scenery to the "cove scene" (search through the blog to see the scene I'm referring to - it's the only part of the layout that's scenicked!

This is actually the second time I've presented for Ted, Ryan, and Hunter - the gang of three who put on these virtual RPMs. 

Last fall I did my Modeling Prototype Structures clinic for Hindsight 2020 2.0. I did that same clinic for the local NMRA division a few weeks later - so you can see the recording of that version of the structures clinic on the NMRA Potomac Division You Tube Channel by clicking HERE

Monday, August 30, 2021

Grass mats

Remember back in the old days when Life-Like (and some other companies I'm sure) sold "grass mats." Basically rolled up paper with dyed green sawdust glued to it? 

My first HO layout featured just such a mat as the scenery. I carefully stapled it to the plywood sheet that formed the base of the layout. I do remember I took the time to paint the shiny staples with green poster paint - otherwise the silver staples made the whole thing look less realistic. 

Grass mats, much like the "horn hook" coupler are, as far as I know pretty much gone from model railroading. 

So imagine my surprise a week or so ago when Christine texted me she had found something she thought I could use at the craft store. When she got home she presented me with a "grass mat" of sorts. In fairness, she got it thinking it would be a nice basis for fields or swamps on a wargame table. And it would. But as I examined it I think I found it may be useful for some limited applications on the layout. 

First of all, this isn't your grandfather's grass mat. No dyed sawdust here. Instead, it features various lengths and textures of realistic-looking vegetation. It's real purpose is a decorative table runner, meaning it fairly large - about 17" wide and almost 7 feet in length. The retail price was about $20. 

I have one narrow spot between the rear staging track and wall. This needed to be finished with something other than raw or even painted plywood, but I didn't want to invest a great deal of time or effort. 

I cut the mat into several narrow strips and placed them in position. 

They worked, but were just a little to "vivid" and green. So I broke out the airbrush and a selection of Vallejo tans, olive green, and browns and misted the green. 

The result can be seen in the photo to the right. 

And I have plenty of raw material left to create some South Carolina swamps for our next wargame table!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Explaining Staging

Over the last few evenings I've completed the basic landforms for the area where trains will emerge from the staging tracks onto the scenicked portion of the layout. As mentioned previously, the staging tracks aren't hidden from view (since hidden from view in this case would also mean "difficult to access"!). They will, however, be screened from view by a low rise in the ground, and perhaps trees and bushes. At the point where the staging tracks emerge from hiding trains will round a bend and appear from behind a more dense stand of trees. At least that's the plan. We'll see how effective it is in practice. 

Some questions and comments indicate a little bit of confusion with what exactly is going on in this corner of the layout. Really, it may seem complicated or confusing but when you see it in person it makes perfect sense. 

I will try to clear this up with a couple of labeled photos. 

A few months back I described how I added a couple of new staging tracks to the layout. There are actually two stub-ended "screened" tracks along the right hand (short) wall if you view the track plan in the Richford Branch layout description tab above. 

These represent the originating point of the Richford Branch in St. Albans, Vermont. These are labeled St. Albans (west) in the image above. As you can see in the photo above there are two other double-ended siding tracks visible in the foreground. These tracks serve a dual purpose. First of all, their primary function is to represent the interchange connection with the CPR in Richford at the other end of the branch. But since these two tracks are double-ended they could also provide additional "surge" staging capacity for another train originating in St. Albans. And their third, and perhaps most important function, at least to me, is to provide a continuous run connection. 

The second photo shows the other end of the staging yard. This is the point where trains coming from St. Albans will first appear "on scene." This photo also shows the other end of those double ended Richford CPR interchange tracks. I've built up the basic landforms out of foam board and florist foam to create a scene with a slight slope to the foreground between the track and aisle and a slight hillside between the track and wall. I'm hoping this will prove to be a good place for "roster shots" of rolling stock. 

Since all this "staging" is really integrated into the rest of the layout visually my intention is to scenic it, ballast the track, etc... 

To the casual observer it will just look like a few more tracks - perhaps with a train or cut of cars spotted on it - but won't be a visually jarring distraction from the rest of the layout. 

Hope that clears things up!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

More backdrops

 Work continues on the basic scenery landforms around the staging yard. I managed to slice my finger pretty good with a box cutter - I attempted to slice a section of foam off a block while steadying it with my other hand - and let's just say that put a damper on any further progress that evening!

I've also managed to complete painting the initial base coat of the background hills along the long wall of the basement. 

Now that my finger is no longer throbbing I should be able to add the highlights to the backdrop trees. 

Here's a couple of photos showing some sections of the backdrop - sorry, no photos of the finger... 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

More backdrop and Kempinski Curve

I got some more backdrop painted yesterday - the image below (please excuse the mess on the peninsula!) shows a view of the backdrop from the main "viewing aisle" in front of the layout. 

This shot shows an aerial view of Kempinski's Curve (for the record there's been a "Kempinski's Curve" on SNE #3 and now #4....!) 

Longtime SNE fans may recall this tale of the design and construction of the famed helical tunnel on SNE #2:

"As you recall, last year the Company contracted with Colonel Niezgrabny Inzynier Kempinski to survey the route of the Southern New England from Tidewater to the Mashantucket Valley. This is, by all measures, considered easy country to accommodate a railroad line – with numerous watercourses and relatively low gradients – none exceeding 300 feet in a mile.
Therefore, I was as shocked as you were to learn that the Company had undertaken the construction of a major tunneling project. I was especially shocked to find Colonel Kempinski, lately of the Polish Army Corps of Engineers and a recent immigrant to our land, had commenced, with nothing more than a rough sketch on the back of a napkin, construction of a tunnel only slightly shorter than the famed Hoosac Tunnel with a constant circular curve. The net result is a linear run of mainline approaching 1.5 miles with the two portals within sight of each other on the same side of a low ridge separated by approximately 150 feet in the vertical plane.
My initial reaction was to sever all ties with the Colonel and send him back to his native Poland. Apparently the Polish Navy would like him to speak with him directly regarding his unique submarine door design (intended to improve air circulation, but at great cost).
However, after speaking briefly with the Colonel (through a translater as no one can understand his Polish or broken English) I believe more than a fair share of the confusion for this debacle lies squarely with our own Chief Engineer's failure to provide the Colonel with detailed surveys of the intended route. According to witnesses, the Colonel kept inquiring of the Chief Engineer "Gdzie jest mapa?, "Gdzie jest mapa?." Unbeknown to any Southern New England employee this means "Where is the map?" Our men thought he was looking for directions to the facility since he was frantically jumping up and down.
When one our younger employees said something to the effect "The Company is going around in circles" – apparently the Colonel's English is just good enough to take that statement as an indication of the intended route. So, we ended up with a tunnel that takes a lot of time to traverse and goes nowhere but up.

You'll also likely receive a communication from the Colonel regarding a tremendous personal injury he suffered when a large tunnel boring drill fell on his foot. His constitution is quite remarkable- I know of few men who can withstand the force of a 100+-foot long drill hitting their foot and continue working. But I assure you the Company bears no responsibility for loss or damages . . . what do you expect when you hire a guy to build a railroad who shows up wearing open toed shoes and who's name, roughly translated, means "clumsy engineer."


All kidding aside, I took a couple of quick snap shots of the curve area to see where and how many trees and other elements I need to position to effectively screen the view of the two staging tracks.  Here's an overhead shot (you can see the condensary building in place to the left) as well as eye level and track level views of the same spot. 

*(The quote above is one of a series of emails from my SNE Mailing List. But it's firmly rooted in fact - Bernie Kempinski and I did indeed build a helix without any complex drawings - or even measurements. And he did wear open toed shoes and dropped a rather large drill bit right on his foot. Luckily, it wasn't on the carpeted floor! And if the email above seems silly it's nothing compared to the Schneider's Row series of reports....)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Backdrop scenery for the staging "yard"

 I'm updating my "Modeling the October Scene" clinic for the upcoming MARPM in September. One thing I want to include in the clinic are some shots of the new layout. At the same time I'd really like to be able to stage some trains in my staging yard - so it makes sense to finish up the scenery along the staging yard "scene." 

The primary scenic element here is the backdrop. Most of the staging yard tracks (all two of them!) will be screened from view by a line of trees, bushes etc... a modified version of "Screened Staging" I used on a prior layout. 

Yesterday I dug out the backdrop paints and got a start on the backdrop behind the staging yard. 

At first I didn't like how "flat" the mid ground (tan) hill looked. So I experimented with adding some additional texture - you can see it if you look closely at the center of the hill in the photo below. Now I have to add that texturing to the rest of the hillside.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Streeters and Clear Brook Progress

Not a great deal of progress in the basement this week, but I did manage to get the feed mill (the "Clear Brook portion of the Streeters and Clear Brook kit) basically assembled and installed on its foundation. There's a metal sheathed warehouse addition that's not shown - it's currently in the paint booth drying!

Although I like the basic lines of this kit I find it, like most "craftsman" kits are really too overly compressed to justify rail service. At least this one doesn't have a lot of weird additions and oddball architectural elements - meaning that I may use it in town as a feed and farm supply store - it will just receives supplies via the team track and not a dedicated siding. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Stone Retaining Walls

The Streeters kit includes several cast resin stone retaining walls. I had a few spare moments Friday afternoon so I decided to dig these out and finish them. 

I'd primed them with gray spray paint a few months ago. Since I model New England granite - or basically gray - seemed like a safe color choice. You could choose to start by priming them an earth tone color if you're planning a limestone or more of an earth tone. 

The goal is to have the individual stones look slightly different. At that same time avoid having the finished wall look like polka dots with each stone radically different than the others. I guess you could say you want the finished wall to have an overall similar tonal value. 

Starting with the primed gray castings here's the approach I used to give some color variation to the walls:

1. Brush on some gray and earth tone Pan Pastels on individual stones.  If some of the Pan Pastel gets on an adjoining stone don't worry about it - but do try to keep the each color to an individual stone. 

2. This step calls for a little finesse. Apply dark gray or black alcohol stain to each of the crevices between the individual stones. I used Hunterline "Creosote Black" but any alcohol stain will work. 

The stain will lightly soak into the Pan Pastels, and create even more color variation. 

3. Using a short stiff brush lightly - lightly! - highlight the top surfaces of the stones with a combination of light grays. Essentially you're highlighting the raised portions of each stone. It's very easy to overdo this effect, so go easy. I also suggest you avoid using straight white. 

4. A final step, which I will do after installing the walls, is to add some green to represent moss on the lower portion of the walls and any deep crevices and the like where moisture would collect. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

A roof for the store at the Junction

 I finally ventured back into the basement a couple of evenings this week after a long hiatus from hobbies of any kind.  I found the Streeters store kit still sitting in the middle of my modeling desk - where it's been since February! - so it made sense to continue working on that. Besides, I need this building done so I can continue working on this scene. 

Besides, to finish the other ongoing layout project, scenery for the staging yard area, I need to make more Super Trees. 

Over the course of the last few evenings I got the roof on the store shingled. I also got the standing seam roofing cut to size and primed, but it still needs some more rust and texture. 

The standing seam roofing has been primed but needs some color variation and rust added. 

The photos show the current state of the structure. 

Couple of tips - I added horizontal guidelines to the subroof prior to adding the shingle strips. Actually I usually do this while the sub roof is flat on the table before installing it on the model. I didn't in this case. Did I mention I was a little rusty?

Another technique I tried is included in the kit instructions. Use a variety of markers to color the shingle material before removing it from the sheet and installing it. Basically, you draw lines across the sheet of different colors and shades of gray, tans, etc... and cut the sheets into strips and add them randomly. The results can be seen in the photos above. Much, much, easier and faster than the former method of installing the shingle strips and then coloring individual shingles on the roof after they've been installed. 

It felt good to get back at it - though I need to really clear off the modeling desk - and clean the workshop - sounds like a good plan for this afternoon!

Friday, July 2, 2021

In Memoriam: John McGuirk, October 8, 1938-June 15, 2021


John McGuirk, age 82, husband of Marie McGuirk, passed away on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at The Lakes at Litchfield in Pawley’s Island.

Born October 8, 1938 in Baldoyle, Ireland, John (“Sean” to his family and friends) was the son of the late Bernard and Ellen McGuirk. John was one of seven children. He and his wife, Marie emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. in 1964 where they settled in Connecticut until moving to South Carolina in 2017. John loved life, always had a smile on his face, and would join in singing any kind of music - especially Irish ballads, even if he was slightly off key. He started playing golf as a child in Ireland, and the game became a lifelong passion. Marie remained the true love of his life from the time they met. John enjoyed meeting new people and seeing new places, and he and Marie traveled extensively before moving to Murrells Inlet.

Survivors include John’s wife, Marie, of 57 years, their son, Martin McGuirk and his wife Christine of Virginia and three grandsons, Jeff, Sean, and Matthew, also of Virginia. He is also survived by three of his six sisters Annie, Carmel, and Veronica and leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy can be made to Shriner’s Hospital Honor a Life and Give in Memory | Shriners Hospitals for Children® (lovetotherescue.org), and/or the National MS Society at Donate | National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org).

A couple of weeks ago I said goodbye for the last time on this earth to the wisest man I've ever met. About three years ago my father was diagnosed with Lewis Body dementia. At the time I hadn't heard of it. Over the past several years I've learned to loath this terrible disease.  

Dad fought both the physical and mental effects of this disease until he simply couldn't fight it any more. Frankly the doctors were surprised he made it as long as he did. Any of us who knew him weren't shocked. 

The last three or four months have been filled with hectic trips back and forth to South Carolina, lots of emotional conversations with my parents, my extended family and friends. What it hasn't been filled with is any hobby time. And that's okay. 

But perhaps you'll indulge my thoughts just a little bit.

Dad in the front garden of his childhood home in Baldoyle. 

My father is the fourth from the right in this photo. Taken sometime in the mid-1950s when he was a caddy at Port Marnock Country Club. 

Now that I've had some time to reflect, I think my fondest memories of my father are the times we spent on the golf course when I was a kid. He would come home from work and we'd head to the course to try and play nine holes before it got dark. By the time we got to the last couple of holes it was typically pitch black. I don't remember much about the golf, but I do remember learning a lot from Dad on the golf course. He wasn't one to lecture or teach by telling - but he showed me through his actions how to be a good person. 

One thing he did tell me was that you could learn everything you needed to know about someone's character by playing a round of golf with them.  I have found this to be true. 

He also believed the world would be a far better place if people shared their own opinions less and listened to others more. I believe this to be true, but really need to work on it!

And while he wasn't a hobbyist in any sense of the word, he was a skilled and patient craftsman. Long before HGTV or "This Old House" my parents practically rebuilt our first house. He'd get a how-to book from Time Life (I think) - read how to do some project or another, buy the tools needed, and dive right in. 

He was the first person to teach me "measure twice and cut once," to respect my tools and to never waste material.  

One thing Dad was not was a model railroader. And while I don't think he ever completely understood the hobby, he certainly encouraged me. He bought my first train set, built my first train table, and would regularly take me to the hobby shop to get the latest issue of RMC or Model Railroader. 

And, years later whenever my folks came to visit he'd spend time looking at the layout, and help out whenever he could. The last time he helped me out was the weekend we started disassembling the layout in our former house. The photo shows the reluctant model railroader carefully removing trees and packing them away in boxes.  

On a visit to Myrtle Beach soon after my folks moved there I got to play a round of golf with my Dad. Dad, as usual, hammed it up for the camera! 

At the time I looked forward to many more. On a lark I shot a very quick video with my phone. Turns out it would be the last time we'd play. I'd give anything to play just one more round with him again. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Doubling Staging Capacity

One advantage of modeling a one-train-a-day branch is that solo operation is no problem. Sure, I'd love to have two- or three-person crews, but until enough folks get vaccinated (happy to report I got my first vaccine a couple of weeks ago!) solo sessions aren't going away anytime soon!

My staging consisted of exactly one track for St. Albans and one track for the CP in Richford!). About 10 days ago I noticed  everything - and I mean everything - was derailing as it came out of the St. Albans track.  

I'd had some noticeable rail kinks in one or two spots on the layout a few weeks ago - likely due to the rather sudden change in temperature and humidity. Most of these were easily fixed but in the case of this particular track something about the temperature and humidity shift, and/or the track itself, caused the rail to actually separate from the ties in the meat of a curve. 

Even before it became my version of a monorail, I'd noticed  issues with the brass 2-8-0s on this curve. As they went through the curve the top of the extended tender coal bunker would just touch the edge of the cab roof causing the locomotive to short. 

Since I had to relay the track anyway I opted to increase the radius of the curve. I even found I could add a Peco curved turnout and add another staging track - doubling the storage/display capacity of my yard. 
This hill, built in somewhat of a rush prior to an open house, never really looked right to me. 

I'd never liked how the hardshell hill at the other end of the staging track had come out. When I built it - just before our Christmas 2019 open house - I didn't brace it sufficiently so the whole thing kind of sagged in all sorts of odd ways. 

One thing that made this spot a little problematic was access to the wall switch that controls the room lights. I didn't want the switch plate to be visible, so I added a opening in the fascia that I can reach into to turn the lights on and off. To prevent another sagging hillside incident I constructed a Gatorboard former cut to the rough outline of the hillside with a hole cut to clear the light switch. A box from a couple of pieces of Gatorboard was added to make the recessed area look a little cleaner and to stop the hill from dropping down. 

The new hill under construction, with the Gatorboard former against the wall. (The two staging tracks are visible center left against the wall).  

The hillside is made from strips of foamboard cut to rough dimensions, glued in place vertically and side to side, and then formed to the final shape. That hill is basically solid so it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The very top surface is florist foam to facilitate installing trees. 

Next step will be to fill in some of the gaps in the hillside, paint, and add ground texture and foliage. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Why no backdrops?

Why I didn't add backdrops (other than the room walls) to my layout can be summarized by this photo. 
I got an interesting email on one of my recent video layout updates the other day. ***

Essentially, the email questioned why I didn't include backdrops along behind both peninsulas and behind the "front" section of the layout where the Enosburg Falls and "Junction" scenes are located. An earlier view of the layout from the front "viewing aisle" is shown below for reference:

There's a couple of reasons I didn't include backdrops on those sections of the layout. In no particular order they are:

1. One of the toughest things to deal with in model photography and videography are shadows reflected from the 3-d world onto the 2-d wall, which is supposed to represent sky. Last time I checked, the sky outside my window doesn't reflect anything. 

Adding more backdrops is simply adding more walls - creating more distracting shadows that have to be addressed. 

2. Somewhat related to #1 is the issues with lighting that additional backdrops would introduce. If there's one area where we model railroaders really need to focus it's on thinking through and improving layout room lighting. I really failed in this area on my previous layout, and although I feel the current layout room lighting is better,  it's far short of ideal. 

More backdrops means more light is getting blocked from reaching the layout - the solution of just adding more light fixtures in the hope the problem goes away only goes so far!

3. Multiple peninsulas broken up with backdrops may help create a sense of isolation and distance - and if that's the goal that's fine. But such a benchwork footprint usually means narrow shelves (a few inches on each side of the track has been promoted by some) which may serve the purpose of stretching the mainline length but at the expense of visual impact. The only photo angle available is the "extreme 3/4 wedge shot." Worse than that, when viewing the layout in person you will find it a struggle to achieve the sense of a train in the environment - it usually looks like exactly what it is - a model train running along a narrow shelf with a modicum of scenery on each side. 

The 3/4 wedgie view of a train - you better like this perspective - a lot - unless you include some deeper scenes somewhere on your layout. 

4. The last, and perhaps most important reason I didn't add a bunch of backdrops to the layout room is simply the fact that I enjoy stepping back and surveying the landscape. In person it's pleasant to look at the layout. And, when you drop the camera down to eye level you can achieve some truly deep, realistic vistas. 

If you don't care for my thoughts on rabbit warren layout design, you don't want to hear about my preference for continuous running! 

(***I tried to illustrate some of this in my latest video layout update - you can see that on YouTube by clicking HERE. )

Friday, March 5, 2021

Milk Car Quandry

 One of the dogs has been a little under the weather this week, and she's really not supposed to go up and down stairs - and if I go downstairs and she doesn't, well, let's just say I hear all about it - the constant baying of an angry basset hound is not conducive to getting work done on the layout. 

So I've been spending my hobby time this week upstairs working on a couple of article drafts and finalizing a clinic I'd started putting together back in the pre-Covid days. 

One of the things I've been researching are the creameries, and associated milk cars, along the Richford branch. 

To start with every town along the branch had at least one active creamery. 

Most milk cars were either railroad owned (CV, B&M, etc...) or were private owner cars (GPEX perhaps the most numerous but there were others) leased to various dairy companies (Borden's, Hood, Whiting, etc ...). The leasee names were stenciled on the sides of the car, and, for obvious reasons, you wouldn't find a Hood car spotted at a Whiting creamery (or vice versa). Complicating matters, the specific car number may have been lettered for Whiting one year and Borden's the next! 

My research, using a variety of sources, has led me to:

1. The Richford creamery was an H. P. Hood Creamery at the time I'm modeling. 

2. Enosburg Falls had a creamery (Paul Dolkos has built the model of it for me), New England Dairies that shipped cans of milk in a CV car, so that's covered. 

4. There was also a condensary in Enosburg Falls, but frankly that deserves its own blog post. 

5. Which leads to East Berkshire. I know there was a creamery in East Berkshire, and I know it was a United Farmers Co-Op, since it said so on the side in huge lettering, and it's listed in the CV list of customers for East Berkshire. (Just beneath another creamery!).  

Which leads to the question - what kind of milk cars would be delivered to this creamery? 
And what how would they be lettered? 

I know United Farmers had a couple of cars lettered for them - the 53-foot wood cars that are identical to express reefers without ice bunkers and roof hatches. 
But all the references I can find inidcate these United Farmers cars were in dedicated service on the B&M between Boston and Morrisville, Vt. Walthers even made a two-pack of them - 

Any help/thoughts/references, etc... would be appreciated. At this point I'd settle for a couple of prototype photos showing the United Farmers cars in something other than the round logo scheme on the Walthers models. Tichy makes decals for United Farmers that are more typical of the later era plain green cars with Deluxe lettering - but I can't find a picture of a United Farmers car painted in that scheme!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Pulling together the Junction Scene


The Junction scene can have some structures - but the prototype scene that's inspiring it was really in the middle of nowhere, with a few buildings clustered around the junction trackage proper. Temporarily arranging the structures shows the open air feeling of the prototype can be maintained with three or four buildings. More than that and it will quickly fall apart visually. 

With the freight car catch up project completed, I've redirected my efforts to finishing up the Junction/River scene, based in spirit, if not entirely in fact, on Sheldon Junction, Vt. 

I've been making good progress on South river Model Works Streeters & Clear Brook kit, and have managed to get the store walls assembled, meaning I'm at the point in this project where I can start locating an appropriate spot for thing. One nice thing about this particular store is the fact that there is little or selective compression, meaning it's the size an HO scale country store should be, and not, as is often the case with a craftsman structure kit, more like an N scale building with HO windows!

A logical place for it seems to be some place between the bridge and St. J & LC crossing. 

Here's the prototype inspiration for my scene. Note the bridge to the left, behind the darker structure. 

I have seen numerous references to a store being located at Sheldon Junction - and though I'm not modeling the prototype exactly, including the South River Streeters Store doesn't seem like much of a stretch. I don't think the building in the b&w photo is a store - I think it may be an old creamery that has been converted to a residence. 

My plan was to place the feed mill that's part of the SRMW kit on the siding in the foreground (the one that dead ends in front of the St. J track by the crossing). 

Three issues: 

1. One of the neat things about the kit's feed mill is the way the rear shed addition is slightly downhill from the main part of the building. While the structure is designed to be built on either or a slope or flat ground, the slope adds a lot of character. Problem is the rear of the building would be at the St. J. track - meaning the ground would have to slope UP sharply to the meet the track. I think it could be done, but there's a river to the right - and the feed mill may very well end up below water level.  At best, the whole thing may look forced. 

2. I haven't assembled the walls on yet, but placing the foundation in position looks like to me like the building will just seem, well, small. 

3. This last one is really more aesthetic than practical, but the store and feedmill are shown arranged on a single diorama on the SRMW kit box. In other words, they go together. And that might not be a good thing. While most people won't know the difference, people familiar with these kits will instantly look at the scene and say "hey that's Streeter's from South River - I have that kit also...!" Not something I want to hear either from visitors - or from myself in my head. Seems the best way to prevent that is to not use the kits next to one another in a scene. 

This last item is of course the bane of kits when it comes to a prototype model railroad layout. You really do need to scratchbuild most, if not all, of the buildings if the goal is to get something realistic, and not merely artistic. 

I do have a feed mill leftover from the old layout. It's based on a structure that once stood across the tracks from the Waterbury, Vt. station. It's prototype size, which means it looks like it can handle a car or two of feed a week. It's also finished, which is a rare commodity around here, and not one to be taken lightly. 

After playing around with several arrangements, the photo below seems to include the essential elements. The white house in the center of the photo is a stand in for the structure in the prototype shot. I plan to build a new model for this scene. Besides, I want something that's painted a color other than white - even if that "other" color is some form of barn red!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

L&N Rebuilt Boxcar

Yet another half started freight car project that I've dug out of the box and completed. This is a Sunshine Models L&N rebuilt boxcar with Murphy ends, Sunshine Kit #64.11. I likely replaced the bracket grabs, ladder, and brake wheel that came in the kit with other after market parts. I did use some bits and pieces of Speedwitch's L&N boxcar decals (which are not specifically made for this car) to complement the kit decals. The carman's chalk marks are a combination of various Sunshine decals. It obviously still needs a little running weathering. That's the basic description of thing, but there's really a little more background to why I built this particular car. 

Back when Sunshine Models hosted the Naperville RPM meets, Martin Lofton, the owner of Sunshine Models, often asked me to do an ongoing hands-on display showing people how to build these resin cars.. One "perk" for doing this was I'd often get early access to the coveted Sunshine "sale room" room before it opened for the other attendees. In this case he'd sent me the kit before the meet so I could get some of the basic assembly work done beforehand. I'm not sure I would have chosen this car on my own, since I haven't seen an L&N boxcar, let alone a pre war rebuild, in a photo on my prototype. 

What really pushed this one to the top of the "finish it" pile was the passing of my good friend Bill Welch. Bill's first modeling love was the railroads of the Southeastern U. S., which he often called "Y'All Railroads." I'd gotten to know him on the prototype modeling "circuit" - and always appreciated a chance to visit with him. When I moved to the DC area Bill still lived here, and he organized several informal prototype modeling "show and tell" get togethers. Very small, very informal, and great fun. 

Bill had sent me an email in late 2019 asking for my help in designing a small switching layout. We went back and forth on that a few times, and then several months passed. It was sometime last summer he wrote to tell me of his cancer diagnosis. By November he was gone. 

I realize it's been a few months since Bill passed away, but I figured what better tribute to a friend than to finally finish up this Y'all road boxcar. 

It seemed doubly appropriate since the very last email I received from Bill was a response to my question - "What color should I paint this thing?" 

He recommended Badger's Light Tuscan Oxide Red. I don't really like Badger's paints after some truly miserable experiences with them early on. But Bill seemed adamant about this brand and color so that's the paint I used.  

Perhaps they've improved the paint somehow? 

Or perhaps Bill was looking over my shoulder? 

In any event, if you don't like the model take it up with me. But if you don't like the color, you'll have to discuss that with Bill. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Trio of CN boxcars


Took some time over the weekend to get this trio of True Line CN boxcars weathered and on the rails. 

These are straight out of the box, although I did replace the factory couplers with Kadee #58s and the used Intermountain semi-scale wheelsets in place of the TLT ones. 

I might go back at some point and add chalkmarks and change the reweigh dates.