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. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

New Video and a (quick) Progress Report

I realized that I haven't posted an update since just after Christmas. Yikes! time flies when you're (not) having fun!!

Frankly the first two weeks of January I was simply too depressed to head into the basement and do anything but binge watch Netflix shows on Formula One racing and a sci-fi action series called "The Expanse."

Then Chrissy came home one day and announced someone at her office had tested positive for Covid-19. She had a cough at the time, so figured she should get tested "just in case." Well, she turned out to be positive as well. 

I actually tested negative - so we did the whole "you live upstairs and I'll live downstairs thing" for the latter half of January. 

Good times.... 

And, although work has been nuts lately with the changeover in administrations etc... I did manage, at long last - to finally finish the Tortoise install project! I can also announce that the vast majority of wiring is also completed! 

My plan is to turn my attention from the layout and focus on bench projects - there are a number of half finished freight cars sitting around in various corners of the layout and workshop, and I want to focus on getting a South River kit finished. 

Which leads to a link to a video update on my progress so far on the South River kit, which you can find on YouTube  HERE