Friday, November 23, 2012

End of day one

So, with the layout sat in the corner of the room with the glue setting there was nothing more to do for the day there. So I turned my attention to the loading screens. Surprisingly for such in interesting subject for the railway modeller there are precious few photographs for research material out there on the internet. The best pictures I've found on the interent are in this Flickr photostream. They certainly show the ends well enough but views of the sides are quite tough to find. In fact, the search is still going on.
I made an artists impression of what I imagined the loading screens looked like. It's a step in the right direction. We'll see what else I find out there and how things change the more info I find. 
It's all very well coming up with the idea but it helps to know what size the structure will actually be. So with the glue well on the way to setting I fleshed out the idea by placing track on the baseboard in the approximate position. It gives me an idea that the screens will cover an area of about 22" x 11".
There you have it. The first day done. A real mixed day. First the really good solid baseboard construction that makes you feel the project is progressing very well and then the research work. Though not showing any real progress is just as important.
Still at the end of the day I'm exactly where I expected to be. I don't know when the next appointment with the project will be though. It might not be until next year what with the holiday season now upon us. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for checking in today.
After writing this post I discovered a few more pictures of the screens that would seem to suggest that the arrangement is quite different to how I have interpreted the photos I first found. More to come...

Lunch at day one

It's 12:15 as I write this post. A scant four hours since I started and as you can see from the picture below the baseboard is as good as done. It is now faced with cork tile and is ready for track laying once the adhesive has set fully.
So, what has happened since the last posting?
Not as if you can't tell from the picture.
Well, while the adhesive was setting on the baseboard I found it necessary to go shopping for some cork tile for the baseboard surface (it turns out I had 4 square feet of cork for the surface and needed five) and foamcore board for the structures. My plan was to go to local DIY emporium Menards but when I got there the car park was chock full of Thanksgiving shoppers and not fancying an elbow digging fight in there I headed over to Office Max where I was almost the only shopper. On my return home the cork tile was glued down and everything now sits under a several years of National Geographic magazine setting.
In the picture above you can also see the tools used and the mess I have created so far. I think you will agree that's not many tools and not much mess.
So considering its lunch time I think I am a bit further on than I expected especially when you consider that most of the 4 hours so far have been devoted to glue setting.
Now I'll grab a bite of lunch and start to block out the loading screens. Give the structures some size and bulk to see how it sets out on the baseboard.
See you later.

And we're off!

So at 8:15 this morning with the wife just reversing out of the driveway and  slip sliding down an icy 1st Street, I disappeared into the basement. With nothing more than a craft knife, a couple of sheets of 3/4"(approx) expanded white polystyrene sheet and some Loctite Powergrab adhesive... 
Slicing up the styrene sheet is so much easier than working with wood. Not to mention a darned sight quieter. Ten minutes later I had one of the sheets cut up into strips for the framing and could set about the gluing. A word about slicing the polystyrene sheet up. I find that if you cut it like you would any other material with a knife you'll end up blunting the blades quite quickly. 
For slicing the strips up I used one of those knives that have the long blades that you can snap the end off when it blunts. I extend the blade out to its fullest length and use it like a saw. Only if I need to make a second pass do I use a cutting motion. That way you make a better use of the blade and can make a much cleaner cut with very few of those annoying white polystyrene beads around to get in your clothes and hair.
So there you go after no more than 10 minutes of cutting I had all the strips of framing I needed cut up and very little mess to boot.
Next, the gluing together. I used some Loctite Powergrab that I had lying around. It had been lying around for several years so a couple of days before I glued up some offcuts of polystyrene sheet to see if it still worked. It did. So it was a very simple task to glue the whole lot together to make a model railway baseboard, as you can see from this picture.
This job was completed by 9:05. Less than an hour to get the baseboard done. Now I need to let it sit a while for the glue to start to set. Before I apply to cork tiling to the surface.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Appointment with destiny

OK so that's a bit of a grandiose title for a blog post. But my first planned date to work on the new layout will be this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Not being keen to fight my way around any stores in search of bargains and having been totally smart-alecky and pretty well finished my Christmas shopping ALREADY. I've decided to let the wife go off on this annual consumer tradition.
The plan of action for the day will principally be to construct the baseboard. Which will be a simple task of slicing some 3/4" styrene sheet to frame the baseboard surface of 3/4 styrene. Much as you would if you were constructing a wooden baseboard. Then I'll face the baseboard surface with 1/8" cork tile. There are two purposes to that:
1. some sound deadening
2. give me something to pin into if necessary.
Whilst the glue on that little lot is setting I'll get the chance to block out the main loading screen structure and if the foam board adhesive sets fast enough there could even be track down by the end of the day. That would be something wouldn't it?
Check back here on Friday for "as it happens" updates.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A baseboard idea

As you know I'm no woodworker. I'll go to all kinds of lengths to avoid using wood for model railway baseboards. Pink foam, cardboard boxes even storage boxes from IKEA. All to avoid putting a saw to wood. 
Three or four years ago I was presenting a series of workshops at the local model railway club on Micro model railway layout design and construction and as an experiment I made a baseboard up using 3/4" expanded polystyrene foam for the surface and framing with a cork surface to lay the track onto all glued together with foamboard adhesive. The other day whilst looking for some tools to work on my MGB I re-discovered the baseboard and took a fresh look at it...
This is what I found after 4 years of being baked in close to 100 degree heat in the summers and -30 degree chills in the winters. Still flat and square and level. A sturdy and very, very lightweight baseboard. I think this method can be used on the new layout. I have plenty of the styrene sheet in hand too. Some 4" x 14 1/2" sheets. Which as you will know from the previous post is pretty close to the size of the proposed layout.
Everything is just falling into place, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A plan, A scheme

So, I've been spending idle moments running the idea for the next 7 day model railroad through my mind. Looking though all my plan books and photo albums for inspiration. Not really finding anything that grabbed my attention. My wife had given me an Athearn Genesis SD70ACe in UP Stars and Stripes livery to mark my gaining US citizenship, but even that failed to ignite my creative juices. I've got lots of large 6 axle diesel models that have little place on my small layouts. 
"Perhaps some model of a railroad workshop to display them all". I thought. 
But I am a small layout fan and I have definite ideas about my small layouts and what they really need is some kind of working feature. I haven't yet worked out what kind of working feature such a layout would have so that's on the back burner for the moment. 
Then I looked in the stock drawer that holds the English outline 00 scale stock that I have been accumulating randomly over the years. I found a couple of shunters (switchers) lots of coal wagons and hoppers. I could see some sort of trend here... 
Almost immediately I recalled a plan in the excellent book "Model Railway Planning and Design Handbook" Published by Santona Publications of the British Oak Coal plant in Yorkshire. A compact plan some 4' x 16" or so in size. This is a quite well known subject in British railway modelling circles due to its compact plan and capability to be worked quite intensively loading coal wagons at the unique loading screens. (There's my working feature)
Curiousity awakened. I looked in my track box. Would you believe it? I have all the turnouts needed to produce the trackplan as featured in the book, so why would I need to come up with my own scheme? I'm so used to coming up with my own ideas, this would be a real change of track (pun intended) for me, working from another persons previously published (and probably copied by others) scheme. That of course gives me my opportunity to put my stamp of individuality on the idea. I've found some good pictures of the loading screens and am looking for something a bit different to the loco shed depicted in the sketch.
I also have the baseboard sorted which will be something different and is a subject for another blog post another day...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The rules have changed... (but the game remains the same)

When the 7 day model railroad concept first presented itself it was very much a make it up as I went along concept. I had time off work. I wanted something to do, so I built a model railroad. The rules made themselves up as the project went along. There were even unexpected surprises such as a bomb scare in town that led to another research trip to St. Cloud to get more photographs.
The reaction from you, the followers and readers of this blog surprised me. I've got to know some of you quite well. I'd go so far as to call some of you my friends. Even at train shows people still talk to me about how good an idea this was and I can't help feeling that I want to have another go. Perhaps this is what I'm meant to do in the hobby. Rather than build a basement filling HO scale empire. I should be building these small layouts to a deadline. Setting myself challenges in that way. 
So how do I approach the 7 day deadline for another challenge? 
I don't have any vacation time free right now. But I do have a deadline to aim at. The Granite City Train Show 2013 is on Saturday April 13th. 
I can't start the layout on April 6th and build from then. That would be killing the momentum and enthusiasm I have right now. I need to start pretty soon.
Thinking back the layout was originally built in five days, Monday thru Friday. Five eight hour days. 40 hours. A work week. So I could set myself a 40-56 hour time limit to complete the project. But I'm not keen of keeping an hourly record of progress. I'm a model railroader, not an accountant. The thought of having to keep a log of an hour here, two hours there to keep to the deadline is against the spirit of the concept. 
So I need to block out days, solid eight hour days to work on the project. A Saturday here, A Sunday there, National Holidays. You know the sort of thing. I can probably block out three days quite easily. The day after Thanksgiving, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Day. They are all holidays I get from work. Three days for the project there. Will they be at the start, or in the middle or at the end of the project? Right now I don't know. Work pressures could even curtail progress on those days. Perhaps I might have to work with half days. We'll see what happens. 
But the concept is sound. Block out whole days to work on the layout. So I have 5 -7 days between now and April 13th to get the job done. Now all I have to do is find a project.
That's a post for another day. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back from the Dead

Look at that, a good 14 months since I last made a post here even longer if you're after a post of some significance. Truth is, I have been distracted by all kinds of things, Layouts in IKEA APA boxes, marathon running as well as the most beautiful rubber bumpered MGB in Minnesota. Time flies by and all of a sudden you find you've done nothing with more with the concept.
Today I got a shot in the arm/kick up the arse with regard to the concept. It was the Granite City Train Show again and so I took Wingetts recycling out of retirement as it hadn't been seen for a while (nearly two years) and put in front of the viewing public once again.
The weeks before the show were taken up with adding a chain link fence between the front siding and the middle siding. This was something that I'd wanted to do for a while but never got around to doing. The impending showing gave me an excuse and I used my old standard method of using Tulle (bridal veil material) for the fence and styrene fence posts. Quick, easy and very effective. I also cleaned the wheels and track. As nothing had been done to it for 14 months.
So, this morning we set out for St. Cloud in a relaxed leisurely way. Setting up is always a breeze with Wingetts it has been done so many times.
But wait!
The operating handle of the leading turnout on the layout broke off leaving me with no way to operate the turnout. A repair would have entailed digging up the scenery to solder the handle back on. Not something I was prepared to do 45 minutes before the doors opened. So I made the decision to operate the turnout by switching the roads with a chopstick that I use to help the Kadee uncouplers when they refuse to co-operate. Not an ideal state of affairs but it would have to do.
Ten am came and the doors opened and as usual we were swamped. I have often said before what a great show it is so very busy, yet so very friendly. Friends old and new turned up to see the layout and many people paid a lot of attention to the operation. Aside from the aforementioned turnout issue the layout performed almost perfectly and I came away from the show feeling tired but very rewarded. I had my enthusiasm for the hobby renewed.
"This is the best layout you've ever built." One person was heard to say. I won't disagree, though I do like the Purespring watercress layout.
I remembered how rewarding it was to build this layout against the clock to a deadline. I really want to do that again now.
I think you can be fairly sure that there will be some kind of update coming here soon