Monday, December 27, 2021

Sign for Streeters Store

Quick one evening project. Actually two evenings since I had to wait for the decals to dry! 

I started with the post from a JL Innovative gas station detail set. (This same set included the Esso gas pumps). I first painted the sign post flat white. Then I painted a piece of thin (.005") styrene dark blue and then applied Microscale Esso decals to the styrene. I snuggled the decals in place with Solvaset and let them dry. Once they were dry I carefully trimmed around the edges of the decal, flipped the sign over and applied a second Esso decal sign to the opposite side. I allowed the decals to dry completely overnight. 

I rusted the edges of the sign and the post with Raw Umber and Mississippi Mud acrylic paints applied sparingly with a piece of torn sea sponge.   I got this technique for rusting signs watching Jason Jensen's YouTube channel. 

I fabricated the crossarm for the sign from pieces of brass wire. 

The base is basswood coated with Ceramic Stucco to give it a little concrete texture. I painted it with light tan acrylic paint and weathered it with some rust colored chalks. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

Simply haven't had time to post much over the last month but wanted to be sure to share our wishes that you and yours have a happy, holy, and joyful holiday season! - Marty and Christine 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Streeters Store update and more scenery

The next project is getting the scenery completed in the Sheldon Junction scene between the junction crossing itself and the large river crossing. Stic came over a few weekends ago and between the two of us we were able to make some cuts into the benchwork to plant the Streeter's Store. Like most South River kits this one can be built "at grade" - in other words on a flat piece of ground, or can be built to include varying levels of terrain. Obviously the latter is almost always more interesting, but it can sometime present a few challenges! In this case we had to slightly widen the benchwork and dig down into the plywood subroadbed. And naturally the logical spot for the store was directly over the legs to one of the IKEA Ivar cabinets....

Nothing a saw couldn't take care of though!

I turned my attention to finishing up some more details on the store. The South River kit includes the really old fashioned glass top gas pumps - they just seemed a little too vintage for my era so I replaced them with pumps more typical of the 1930-50s era. 

Still to come is some additional signage. 

Obviously the ground is strictly the base terrain - I'll add some tile grout "soil" shortly, as well as installing the road proper. 

The foreground tree is a placeholder for how - frankly I like how it frames the store so the tree may well grow roots!

I was thinking about adding a farmhouse across the street from the store (basically between the curved interchange track and the store in the overall photo). But when I added a house as a mockup it just seemed like one too many elements in the scene. 

The only other structure will be the Campbell water tank - that's one of the first "real" models I built and I've had it on every layout since I was a teenager. Thought I should include it here!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Pre-WWII steam lettering color - another data point?

One of my long dormant projects that's at last getting off the "to-do" list is to detail, paint and letter a couple of steam locomotives in the "pre-WWII" style of lettering. I've blogged on this topic several times - see this POST  for some background information. 

Matthieu Lachance did some artwork for this longer ago than I care to admit - the post showing what his artwork looked like can be found in THIS 2020 post. 

The one fairly significant piece of the puzzle I don't have a definitive answer to is what color the lettering was. 

We do know, based on the well-researched Canadian National Steam by Donald McQueen that in 1912 the standard color for steam locomotives was black with numerals and lettering in "standard golden yellow." But in 1919 that was changed for the CNR and GTW to "white or aluminum 12-inch block lettering (gothic) stencilled onto the tender sides.  But when Matthieu and I were researching the lettering we found one - that's exactly one - CV locomotive with the Gothic block lettering. All the rest of the CV locomotives retained their serif style lettering in one form or another through WWII. 

McQueen offers some details on CV lettering without any comments on the color in the CV roster volume of his amazingly in-depth series. Some notes that may prove helpful to blog readers:

1. Pre-1895 or so CV used two styles of tender lettering. The "undulating spelled out road name" was primarily used on leased system engines, such as the O&LC, New London Northern, and Rutland. The "CVRR" initials were primarily used on "home road" engines. Locomotives painted in those schemes we know were delivered from the factory with gold lettering. 

2. In 1899 the GTR assumed control of the CV, and instituted a locomotive renumbering. The "standard" paint scheme at this time became the lettering in the photo of no. 395. In 1917 the striping around the side of the tender disappeared. Shortly after, the road name on the tender also disappeared. 

3. Between 1923 and 1927 the only change to the CV lettering was the addition of haulage rating (as a percent) centered under the road name on the side of the cab. The white outlined "Central Vermont" box monogram on the side of the tender first appeared with the delivery of the 2-10-4s in 1928.  

All of this begs the question if the CV didn't change its locomotive paint scheme in 1919 to keep pace with the new GTR system standard - AND the lettering was "standard golden yellow" IS IT possible the CV retained the yellow lettering? 

It's possible, but I don't think it's likely. 

Recently I stumbled across a couple of web sites that will colorize black and white photos - and while I don't think they're perfect - actually far from it - I thought it wouldn't hurt anything if I uploaded several of the photos I have of pre-WWII CV engines and see what color they think the lettering was. 

The results were interesting, to say the least. I've included a photo of 2-8-0 395 in both the monotone and colorized version. 

I'm not going to upload the other dozen or so photos I colorized (for the record I tried three different online services - the one shown here is from a site called "MyHeritage.")  I found the photos were all somewhat faded. 

Notice the lettering under the cab windows has a slight - but very definite - overall yellow tone. And so does the tender lettering. However, careful study of the right side of the "9" on the tender seem to show the lettering is may have been some sort of white, light gray, or perhaps something similar to aluminum paste. 

I'm not sure what the answer is, but since the CV didn't change their lettering style in 1919 with the rest of the GTR I think I have a pretty strong case for the golden yellow lettering. 

When I have the decals printed I think I'm going to go with both colors - but my personal preference is the yellow - I think it looks sharper! 

Monday, November 8, 2021

"Live" Clinics and even a "Live" Visitor!!


Of course, you never notice things like the "chipped paint" on the sill - actually a decal issue - or the bent handrail in front of the cab - UNTIL you take a photo!!! 

I did an in person version of the scenery clinic at the local NMRA division meet this past weekend. 

Thrilled more than a couple of people showed up. I didn't get a head count, but I think there were 40 or so people in the room - it certainly seemed full. Got several questions, and no one snored so loud that they woke up the person next to them ...

All kidding aside, after doing remote clinics for the last two (?) years I’d forgotten how much I missed the interaction and immediate audience feedback - not so much for feeding my ego - but for getting a feel which portions of the clinic are perhaps more interesting than others. 

Also, jokes actually land - ever try to tell a joke during a virtual clinic??? …. Result is always the same - Crickets!!!

After the clinic, and the always exciting door prize drawing (I won a Bowser GL hopper) I grabbed lunch with Bill Schultheiss and Rich Steinmann. Bill had asked to come by and see the layout - he actually grew up in the Richford area so I was interested in hearing his thoughts on the layout. We had a great visit. I think he was pleased - hope he can stop by and visit again sometime. 

Since I didn't bother to take any photos either at the Division meet or of Bill standing in front of the layout you'll have to settle for a shot of SNE RS-3 1854 running north of Williams Creek. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

New siding for "Stafford Mills"

The fact that even the "first coat" of the backdrop painting stops
here is a clue that the Stafford Mills area of the layout is unresolved. 

As originally planned, Stafford Mills (essentially my freelanced version of Sheldon Springs) was the location of a major single industry - in this case a paper mill complex located at the end of a dedicated stub peninsula. But as I built the layout I realized there would be room for a siding with one or two very small industries at opposite the junction switch on the passing siding (the junction switch with the mill lead forks off from the mainline). 

In this case I didn't have to remove anything so this wasn't so much a "rework" as it was an addition or an enhancement. I could even make the argument this didn't add any additional track to the layout since I'd removed a turnout and a siding from the junction area as part of the rework of that trackage I described a few months ago. 

I was out of Micro Engineering no. 6 code 70 turnouts - as is everyone else. So I decided to handlay the necessary turnout. Although this added a couple of evenings to the project I'm glad I did - the turnout works perfectly, and cars and locomotives (even brass steam locomotives!) pass through both routes without so much as a click! I'm not wishing any additional work on myself, but if any of the Micro Engineering turnouts on the rest of the railroad fail or prove troublesome I'm simply going to replace them with handlaid ones.  

The buildings shown in the photos are strictly placeholders and may, or may not, end up in these locations permanently. I kind of like the idea of a station in between the mill lead and mainline, so that will likely stay (I may build a different station for the spot. The one shown is a model of the Richmond, Vermont station - although that perhaps the closest to a "standard" CV small depot design as the railroad had. But there are a couple of Grand Trunk (NEL) stations I've always liked and may well scratchbuild one of those for this spot. 

The freighthouse is a Walthers cheapo model that I painted and lettered in "close enough" CV colors. It's not bad .... but the weakest point is the platform - despite my best efforts it's still too bulky. I should have replaced it with a scratchbuilt wood one. I do have a BEST Trains kit that may work better in this spot, if I decide to stick with the freight house. 

The red rectangular building is simply there to fill space and see how a larger industry would look in that spot. I'm not convinced it's going to work there - especially with the freight house. The answer is looking like (1) freight house and something that isn't a large building - a coal yard for example or team track OR (2) a larger building industry with no freight house. Since there's going to be plenty of large buildings in the mill complex I'm leaning towards option #1. 

My ultimate plan for the area with inside the mainline curve (with the yellow building) is to ultimately have a mill river with one or two larger wooden mill structures over a mill stream, complete with mill falls, etc. ... But that sounds like it may take months/years to get completed. This may well simply end up as some open fields and a tree line "for now" to get a large portion of the landscape to look finished with the idea I could revisit it at some future point. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Modeling the October Scene Clinic Hindsight version Wrap Up

Creamery Curve is getting close to completion. Still planning to add some weeds to the creamery siding and between it and the main. The Branchline creamery kit (with a scratchbuilt boiler room addition) makes for a nice stand in. It may be replaced with a scratchbuilt model at some point, but there's lots more work to do on the layout first!

Happy to report that my Modeling the October Scene clinic was well received. I wanted to record it but we had some sound issues so that didn't really work. I am doing the clinic again on November 6, this time live and in person, at our combined Potomac/James River Division meet. 

Late last week I got so busy finalizing the clinic that I neglected to add a new update on progress around what I'm calling the "Creamery Curve". In many ways, this is another update to the mainline curve realignment. 

After cutting the Martin Wellberg mats to into strips and gluing them in place (let these dry overnight!) it was time to blend them together and create the look of an overgrown pasture. 

I mostly used static grass to fill in the gaps between the mat sections, but I noticed the edge of the mat was still a little too visible. I found it was easier to use the grass and foliage net material, teased out and cut roughly to size, to fill the larger gaps and blend the mats into the rest of the ground. 

The last step was to add a scattering of electrostatic grass. 

I'd like to add some weed grown track and some scattered weeds to the wide gap between the main and creamery siding, but need to experiment on some track samples first. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Trimming a Clinic to Length and more "Field Testing"

Taking a break during a busy day to post a few thoughts now that I've just about got my Modeling the October Scene clinic completed. 

1. I'm actually going to present only the first half of the full clinic. (I'm doing the same clinic in person for our local NMRA Division in November - but the Hindsight Clinics are only 30 minutes long! So this one will cover scene planning, grasses and ground covers, and trees. The "season specific" stuff is going into the second half hour.... 

2. One thing I DO want to address is which specific "Fall" I'm modeling. After all, "Fall" ranges from all green (basically summer) to snow covered (essentially winter) and everything in between. My current layout is set in the "Past Peak" portion of the season - the leaves are still on the trees, but are no longer in full "neon" bright colors. The grasses are a mix of greens and tans, even in the same area. I did locate one photo (taken by Dave Sweetland) that shows "my" season:

3. I thought the area across the tracks from the creamery appeared just a little unfinished. It's one thing to allow for "white space" but another to just slap some ground textures down and call it "done"! I added a fence line, shown in the photo below, which certainly helped. But often you'll see a wildly overgrown strip between the railroad right-of-way and the field. I wanted to try and capture that. 

4. After seeing and hearing great things about Martin Wellberg's line of scenery mats, I purchased a couple of the fall mats through Scenic Express. At this point I've cut one or two up into strips and started arranging them. Obviously I still need to fill in all the gaps  between the intense overgrowth of the mat and the plain ground. Jury is still out on this one ... but it's fun to experiment. 

5. Speaking of experimenting - I've been playing around with making corn shocks (basically the corn "teepees" that were once commonplace in farm fields in the autumn. I've tried little pieces harvested from real grasses and weeds, wire with ground foam, and even trying to carve them from balsa foam. All of these met with zero success. I did have a package of Walthers "corn" sitting on the shelf so on a whim I simply duplicated what the farmers did - and cut the individual stalks off the sprue and arranged them to look like a corn shock. Obviously version 1.0 shown here needs a lot of work, but it's the most promising approach to date. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Planting grass

The photo above is a panoramic shot showing most of the scenery I worked on over the last few evenings. Overall, I'm pleased with how it's turning out. I do need to add some additional textures and over growth, some more fence lines, and a couple of vertical elements such as foreground trees. But I consider this scene about 75% complete. 

As I mentioned previously I'm doing my "Modeling the October Scene" clinic for Hindsight 2020 next weekend. 

The last time I did this clinic was back in 2016 - so I figured I should at least try and update it with some of the newer products and techniques I'd played around with since then. Once I got the mainline realigned around the curve just outside the junction (a project that included changing a former spur into the new St. J interchange track!) I needed to patch the scenery around the curve. 

And once I got the static grass guns out I simply kept going around the bend. 

The following are tidbits that might (or might not!) make it into the final clinic:  

I liked the rock outcroppings on the hill behind the curve but the largest rock always looked like it was "floating" with nothing beneath it. A maxim of model railroad scenery is "hide it with a bush" - this is taking that to extremes - but some foliage netting (green and fall rust) looks like overgrowth and blends the rock outcropping into the scene.

The barn (a BEST Trains kit) has found it's way into the scene - as has a Branchline creamery kit. Although not specific CV prototypes both buildings look the part. 

The creamery was installed about a year ago, removed, and then re-installed. At some point I may replace it with a scratchbuilt model, but there's only so many hours in the day .... It does need some signage though! These two photos show the relationship between the creamery and barn. I'm considering adding a row of trees between them (basically to the right of the creamery in these two photos) to isolate the two scenes just a little. 

Although the barnyard looks okay (I really tried to vary the textures and types of grass and make it "patchy" on purpose) the area in front of the barn is still the neatest I've every seen. At some point I need to add well-weathered tractors, old wagons, stuff under tarps, etc... I have some of this stuff, just need to dig it out and weather it. 

That blank piece of ground to the right of the barn in the photo above is "post harvested" something. I may go back and add a cornfield - maybe a pumpkin patch? My inclination is to leave it like it is for now. 

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll stand back and you can see what the area immediately out of the view from the camera looks like! And yes, the new St. J interchange track is buried in there .... somewhere!! 


Saturday, September 25, 2021

One less siding, but better performance

If you want to find every place on your track that needs work, try running a brass steam locomotive over it. While today's diesel, and even plastic steam locomotives can run down a gravel road without a hitch, brass steam engines are the most finicky of all. 

I had one spot - a fairly broad curve - where the brass engines were all derailing (or stalling). Stalling is usually a power pickup issue - but derailing in this case was the fault of the track. 

I wanted to add a siding from the curve, and thought I was being clever when I bent a Micro-Engineering turnout to follow the curve, but I either didn't do it correctly or the brass engines were just a little too stiff to deal with the curve-into-tangent-into-curve-into-tangent arrangement. After thinking the matter through I decided the trains negotiating the curve reliably outweighed the benefit of having one more siding to set out and pickup cars.

Frankly while I fretted over this for a few weeks, but the fix didn't take more than a couple of evenings. The photos show a little more detail:

You can see the offending turnout at the top of the photo. Diesels, plastic steam locomotives, and cars went through it without a hitch. Brass steam locomotives not so much.

I pre-bent some Micro-Engineering flextrack to a curve so the new alignment would continue the same curve radius as the rest of the mainline. Note the difference between the old and new alignments.  

I covered the creamery building with a paper towel and then soaked the old track and ballast with water and alcohol mixture. After waiting about 10 minutes the track and ballast came right up. 

 A quick scraping with a putty knife removed any remaining ballast and dirt and leveled the roadbed. 

Laying the new track was a matter of pre-bending it to a constant curve radius (in this case 40", you can see the track radius gauge in place at the joint between two sections of track) and gluing the track in place with adhesive caulk. 

After the track was painted, weathered, and ballasted. I thought about moving the creamery track to the left as well, but I like how there's a gap between the main and the siding. Next step is static grass on this entire curve area and details like telegraph poles and the like. 


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!