Friday, October 30, 2009

A Scrapyard Vista

I did not plan on making three blog entries today but after looking down the layout after snapping a shot of the rusty wheels I thought to myself
"That view looks quite good". Here is that same view for you to see.
There is definitely a "scrapyard" feel to it. Don't you think? Piles of rusting metal, wagons waiting for the cutters torch. Yup, I think this little project is coming along quite nicely.

Rust in pieces

Time to get on an do some more work on the layout. One thing that I noticed about the prototype scrapyard was the way the wheels were stacked in the yard. I knew that I had to recreate this feature on my model. It was not a problem getting hold of the first set s of wheels. I had after all cut up a couple of cheap Bachmann wagons for the layout. Not wanting to spend another $20 on a couple more wagons, being unable to find any second hand ones. I bought a 12 pack of Kadee non magnetic wheelsets. Here you see them piled up on the layout.
The rusting has still got a little ways to go yet. but it's definitely heading in the right direction I feel as this is the first time I've ever tried anything like this. They are painted with acrylics. On there so far is a base coat of "Sunrise Orange" which seemed to work better on the Bachy wheels than the Kadees. The second coat was a colour called "Asphaltum". I'm liking this Asphaltum colour. It seems to be a pretty good colour for rusting wheels when on top of this Sunrise orange and out of curiosity I also painted some onto a boxcar for weathering purposes, it makes a pretty good dirt colour too. But I digress. I need a third colour on there as well because as it stands the brighter rusting colour is too dominant. I need to bring that down a bit. But what I should use I don't know. Anyone got any suggestions?

Railboxes real and model

I like Railboxes. There's no way to hide the fact. I don't know why I just do. I don't know if its the bright yellow colour or what it is. I've always liked them. In fact one of the first Athearn Blue Box models I bought was a Railbox. So I'm always on the look out for Railboxes in trains and model Railboxes in the hobby shops. I'd been looking around lately to see if there was an excess height model Railbox for sale because there are a lot of them about today on the railroads. They carry the TBOX reporting mark (T for tall perhaps?) I hadn't seen one so I was quite disappointed. Until last weekend that is when in Beckers model railroad supply in New Brighton, MN. There was a Hi Cube box car from LBF models. It was the last one on the shelf so I bought it just in case someone else had the same idea. It looked really nice even in the box it seemed to capture the spirit and the feel of the real things. Compare the photographs of the model and what I think is the same sort of prototype Railbox below.
Be honest that is a pretty good match isn't it?
Now I know nothing about LBF Model Trains. There appears to be no internet presence. But there are strange tales out there that I don't understand so I shan't report them here. Because it would detract from what I consider to be a very fine model indeed. All the correct details appear to be there. The underfloor pipes and rigging are nicely done and all separately applied, as are some hand rails and ladders on the ends. I popped my magnifier on to see if I could read all the details in the printing. I could. Superb. The doors are separately added unlike on my Athearn Genesis cars. Everything is there. About the only thing anyone would want to do (aside from weathering) would be to change out the plastic chain for a length of scale chain down from the brake handwheel on the end and if you're going to do that you probably model in P87 anyway and pop in some scale wheelsets as well.
It certainly won't appear on the scrapping line at Wingetts Recycling. It's too fine a model for that. I paid $21.71 for it and for that price it more than compares with Athearn Genesis.
What is even more exciting though is that I hear the Exactrail Trinity Hi Cube box car is available on Monday despite the website saying "Sold out". I'll be ordering one of them without a doubt. It will be interesting to compare the two of them.
(postscript: It would appear that FBT are no longer in business. That's quite sad I do like the model)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"I love deadlines...

...I love the whooshing sound they make as they pass by"
So wrote the late Douglas Adams. Deadlines are great. They focus the mind on the task in hand. I have many happy memories of the nights before the Annual Mablethorpe and District Model Railway Club exhibition working until the early hours of the morning making sure that my layouts worked.
I even recall one evening where the first time that the layout "Drinkallby and Belchford Road" was assembled to its full 24' length was the night before an exhibition in my friend Steve Coopers garage. Now I remember more of the night I think it even extended out of his garage into his drive it was so long. Ah happy memories, but I digress...
Now the 7 day layout has a deadline. 27th November for the rum River Model Railroad Club train show. Really in all honesty I consider the layout in an exhibitable state right now. But the deadline can get me focussed on the other jobs I'd like to get done to improve the layout. Tasks like adding more rusting wheels to the pile there. Cutting up another wagon for scrap. Adding a rear fence, putting some buildings on the backscene, weathering some wagons, scratchbuilding a GE 23 ton Box cab switcher. Did I just say that last one?
I've got a lot to do better get busy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making an exhibition of myself

The 7 day layout will be able to be seen at the Rum River Model Railroad Clubs Thanksgiving show in November 27th and 28th 2009 from 10am to 3pm at the Old Great Northern Depot in Princeton, MN.
It's worth coming just to see the magnificent depot building that is on the register of historic places.

p.s. By the way, do you like the new Blue coloured background? I do. So much better than that heavy old Black

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trackmobile is here!

Here it is. Placed on the layout and in front of a ruler to give you an idea of the small size (no more than 2 inches long)
It looks great. When I opened the box and took it out I couldn't believe it. Crisp detail in the mouldings, detailed cab, superb finishing and to cap it all off it runs smoothly and slowly.
I have mixed feeling about the hauling capacity though. True this is a small loco and I shouldn't expect much and indeed I don't want much. Performance depends on the type of car you are switching. I conducted two sets of tests. Now it should also be remembered that these tests were conducted straight out of the box with no running in for the trackmobile.
The first test concerned some Athearn Genesis 60' excess height boxcars. It pushed and pulled one wagon with ease. It also shoved two without a problem but pulling the two was a different story. It wheelspan immediately. These it should be noted are some really weighty cars.
However when it came to my 50'cars. It was a different story it worked up to three of them and a caboose quite comfortably.
As with any short wheelbase loco running over pointwork will be an issue. Indeed the loco runs much better over the live frog point work of Oneota yard than it does over the dead frog point work of the 7 day layout.
So in short the loco does what I wanted it to do, runs as I expected it to and looks great. Which when it comes down to it you can't ask for much more. Can you?

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Christmas List...

It's getting around to that time of year again. When that tubby, jolly red faced man pops down the chimney and leaves me lots of pressies under the Christmas tree (that's if he can find room around the Bachmann G scale train I have running there, that is).
So quite naturally I've been giving some thought to what I'd like him to bring me this year. I
might just ask for one of those Walthers HO scale Ore dock kits and I really would like a set of DMIR Jennies if they are still in production. But that kinda sorta sets me up to build an HO scale ore dock layout doesn't it... Which leads me into a shameless plug for a new blog I've started. This one concerns my fascination for The Ore Docks of the great Lakes. I'm not saying I'm going to build a layout based around a Great lakes Ore Dock. It's more of an exploration of the subject of the Ore Dock and how one would go about modelling one. There are precious few (if any) websites concerning ore docks. So if I've started something all well and good more people need to know about these marvellous structures.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bye-bye Blue

Sad news from Athearn this morning. They are disccontinuing effective immediately their blue box line of basic kits.
I'm sure most US outline modellers around the world began with the Athearn blue box kits. Kits was a misnomer really. There was rarely any serious assembly to do like in the Intermountain TTX flat car kit I still have to make after 4 or 5 years in my posession. They were more of a dis-assembled R-T-R model. It was just a question of putting the body on the underframe screwing the bogies in place and adding couplers. Five to ten minutes work and Bingo! There you had it. One ready to run HO scale box car.
My first layout was totally operated with blue box freight stock and locomotives. I still have some today operating on this layout.
Times however have moved on and there are much much better quality kits and RTR models out there today. It will tak a long time for them to disappear but still the shelves of the local hobby shop won't be the same without that little blue box there.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"I'm not dead yet..."

Much like the old man in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" This layout is not done for yet. To that end on Friday before I left for the Whistlestop Marathon a package arrived for me from Walthers that contained a couple of items that could find use on the layout.
The forst is the Walthers Cornerstone Dumpsters. A total of 8 superb injection mouldings of some very typical dumpster styles that when painted and weathered will look great in the yard somewhere.
The other item I bought out of curiosity and am very impressed with is the Shredded Scrap metal pile #2103 from Monroe Models. They produce a range of scrap metal piles for different uses. It comes as a ready painted resin casting. I was really impressed with the look of the pile and the quality of the detailing in the casting. I had some fun scrutinizing the pile seeing what I could recognize. Some nice lattice work, oil drums, ladders, corrugated iron and girders for example. A persons opinion of the "ready painted rust" can vary. But the pile has shadows and highlights worked in there. So overall it's a very reasonable representation of a pile of rusty metal. The detailers amongst us would likely work a few more colours in there and I think a coat "dullcote" to take the slight sheen off would be advantageous. But I really do like it and I would definitely consider Monroe Models again if they produced something that I was looking for on my next modelling project.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


One of the most popular comments on RMWeb (and from my wife too) on how to improve things on the layout concerned the corner and the backscene. Everyone thought that the backscene:
a) needed clouds on it and;
b) the corner needed rounding off (see the picture below)
So, as I thought this was a pretty quick and easy job. I set at it. I removed the backscene, added a thin cardboard flap to one end that I could bend, and then repainted the whole thing and added some clouds. The end result (below) is a vast improvement
Always listen to the RMWebbers (and your wife...)

A bit of a cheat

It would appear I have fooled some people. After posting the final set of pictures yesterday I received several comments about the tree at the l/h end and how did I manage to produce such a realistic model. See the picture below.
Well, I'll come clean it was nothing but a big cheat and some dumb luck as well. The tree is a few sprigs of Woodland scenics fine leaf foliage glued together with my hot glue gun and stuck in a hole in the baseboard. The big cheat is placing it in front of a photograph of a tree with similar foliage texture. The dumb luck comes from photographing it from such an angle that to some people the join between the two became somewhat "fuzzy". Making the model tree look a lot bigger and more realistic than it actually is.
This picture above reveals the truth of the situation. I haven't even finished painting the trunk of the tree yet.
I have to admit to feeling pretty good that I "duped" several people like that.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 5 - Mission accomplished!

I'm not going to say finished for what model railway can truly said to be finished. There's always something you can do to any layout. But this afternoon I stood back. Looked at it and said to myself.
"I could take this layout to a show now." That means that to all intents and purposes the project is done. Yes there are still things to do. I've mentioned some of those before. But now, in this state, this layout is exhibitable. So to celebrate I ran trains in a typical operating sequence and photographed it.
1. The mainline diesel brings in a selection of cars to be scrapped
2. The works switcher emerges from the building to pick up a car for cutting up.
3. The switcher detatches one car from the train and takes it on its last journey
4. The car disappears inside never to be seen again.
Without a doubt, I'm very happy the way the project has turned out. Now the long tedious process of detailing begins. Twice maybe three times as may rusty wheels, the scrap pile needs to be bigger, the dumpsters need adding, the backscene detailing need fixing in place... and so it goes on. I'll keep posting more on the layout as I work on it.
But for now, as The Two Ronnies used to say.
"It's goodnight from me"
"And it's good night from him"

Day 5 - the last 20%

That's the theory isn't it?
I believe I heard someone say that the first 80% of a job takes 20% of the time the last 20% of the job takes 80% of the time.
Well I reckon I'm at that stage now. Pretty much all the "heavy lifting" is out of the way. There's one significant part that I won't tackle just yet and that is the procscenium arch or "picture frame" for the front of the layout. That's something to bear in mind should I ever wish to take the layout to a show.
So today it will be a bit here a bit there, adding some details to the layout. I'm weathering 8 axles of freight car wheels to put on there at the moment. I need a lot more of them very clearly. The scrap pile needs adding to. I'm sure I can find plenty to do.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 4 - insert smug grin smiley here

Oh yes. I'm feeling pretty darned pleased with myself today indeed. Take a look at the pictures below. Today everything just pulled together. This looks like a model railway layout. It operates as it should. Work needs to be done on the left hand side towards the fiddle yard exit. Some of that space will be taken up with the dumpsters I ordered this morning. But there is some blank space there that really does need filling. But for now time to sit back and enjoy the pictures
Above: the building fits in the corner perfectly
Above: an overall view showing that blank area towards the fiddle yard exit
Above: the scrap pile still has a long way to go but this view is so likeable.

A cautionary tale

I've just spent the last 45 minutes or so broggling around with one of the points trying to get it to work.
I just thought I'd better give the track a test run after all that spraying of glue that I did yesterday associated with the ballasting and such like.
I gave the track a pretty serious rubbing down with a track cleaner and hooked up the wires. It worked perfectly except for when the first turnout was set for the straight road. Now this was a puzzlement. Everything worked perfectly before I started spraying and I covered all the pertinent part of the turnouts to protect them from overspray.
Not being electrically minded, anytime something like this happens I get pretty fed up because I know that it will take me an age to sort it out.
Surely enough it did. It took me quite some time to find out that some glue and spray paint had caked up the pivot point between the straight switch rail and stock rail (or is that closure rail). Anyway once I'd found that and cleared everything out it ran perfectly again. Things are back on track excuse the pun. I think I should work on the backscene now.

(as good as) Done

Here we are then just before it gets installed on the layout and bedded in. The main building. I'm pretty pleased with it so far. Once I get it in situ I'll then add a bit of light weathering to it.
To recap on the construction methods and materials used. The main building shell is 5mm foamcore board. The brick base came from some leftover parts of a Walthers low relief building kit The block walling was hand scribed styrene sheet. The doors are left overs from some other Walthers and Pikestuff kits. The Biffy is from BLMA. The Lean-to addition is a shell of 1.5mm card from the back of a desk top calendar faced with Metal roof and siding embossed styrene sheets.
Time for a coffee break I think.


There's something very therapeutic about chopping a cheap freight car up for the scrap pile...
They were only $6 in the hobby shop, they were some really cheap Bachmann cars.
As soon as I took them out of their boxes the wheels fell out of the bogies so I figured that was a sign.
So I chopped the ends off to use like in the header photo and sliced the sides and roof up. The bits are drying after being sprayed all kinds of dirty rusty colours.
Bingo! The start of a scrap pile...

Day 4 dawns

What joys does it have in store for me?
Projects today include the completion of the low relief building. Though I thought that was going to happen yesterday. But I do only have a door, guttering and bargeboards to put on to complete it.
Then I really have to turn my attention to the other blank areas on the layout. The scrap pile for one is something that absolutely has to be developed to call the layout finished at the end of 7 days. Looking round Phillips recycling yesterday I noticed there was a fair few dumpsters lying about. Walthers do a package. Now they are not anything that I have seen on any of the shelves of my local hobby shops so they will have to be ordered. I'm also cannibalising a few bits from Oneota Yard my previous HO scale layout to get a feel for things. Pehaps I'll even get around to adding those trees...