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