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® (, and/or the National MS Society at Donate | National Multiple Sclerosis Society (

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.