Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vintage Victory!

At the recent Great Train Expo in Santa Rosa I found the sort of dealer who carries the sort of trains I like to buy at the sort of prices I can't refuse.  Most were rare, long out of production cars, priced between 2 and 5 dollars, depending on the condition.  I found these three I couldn't live without:

Yes, I already have one of the Purina Reefers, er, ventilated cars.  I couldn't pass it up.  It will need a new underbody, trucks and couplers, as well as new vents - these were not iced, so no hatches.  Still working on sourcing parts for the vents.

The second car is a Varney car, and as marked is just at the edge of my era.  What makes this a must-have are the paper crates.  This is one way early autos were shipped and I have had my eye out for one of these cars.  The flat is in near-perfect condition, with all the sill steps and even the brake rod and wheel still intact.  The paint is factory fresh and the lettering crisp and legible.  The trucks will pass for PRR trucks in use at the time but the brake gear is AB.  However, I may not change it since it really isn't that visible due to the low side sills.  Naturally it will need new couplers, and if I ever come across some Carmer uncoupling levers I may add them, otherwise it is RTR with a little weathering.

Finally the last car is a custom lettered car for the Shepaug Valley & Western.  If any of my dozen or so readers, okay, the three or four of you, know anything about this road let me know in the comments or send an email.  I think there was an actual Shepaug Valley Railroad that was folded into another Connecticut line early in the 1900s, but beyond that I have to assume this was a private road name applied by a creative individual.  Love the orange and green.  This car will need some TLC as the orange paint chipped away from where the price tag pulled off....<grr>....and one of the doors popped loose.  The trucks are fine but I may trade them out for T-sections or express trucks at some point.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Per Ardua, Per Aspera

"Through Adversity, Through Hardships" would be one translation, but I prefer to draw on the derivatives for direction - Ardua; Arduous; Strenuous or Hard Work and Aspera; Aspirations or Hope.  That's the direction of my hobby right now, through hard work and hope.  I hope, very soon, to begin model building again, and I know it will take much hard work to get there.

In a nutshell, Kristi took a call to serve a congregation in Ukiah, California, I resigned my call after seven years of service at Bethany in Spanaway, Washington, and we have moved.  We are currently living in the parsonage.

To define the scope of the situation, here's a look at my workbench area:

I know it will be a great place to work, eventually, but for now all I can do is hope and work hard on dealing with the boxes of stuff and the piles of clutter (and not just in this photo, but scattered all around the house...and that's not even considering the garage!)

And here's the kicker - the previous tenants had a cat.  More likely multiple cats, based solely on the smell.  Even if I had all the stuff unpacked and put where it belongs, I can't sit in that corner without making a face (you know the one).  Cat urine has got to be one of the worst aromas ever, and this corner of the carpet is saturated.  Fortunately the other end of the large living area, to the left of the images, is pretty clean. 

We live with pets.   I've dealt with cat pee before - we use a great enzymatic cleaner that works wonders.  Our cats don't get to this room so there's no danger there of the smell getting worse.  We also have dogs.  The dogs really need a bath and consequently so does the couch.  But to just let it go and ignore the problem, especially as a renter, is irresponsible.  I don't want this to seem like a rant against the church - on the contrary, they went over and above to fix up the house, painting all the walls, cleaning, etc.  We are very happy with them and this house.  I am especially thankful that they are going to replace the entire living room carpet (sometime next week as of this writing).

Anyway, enough venting.  Big picture - I will be able now, thanks to my new job description (Dad/Husband/Son/Son-in-law/etc.), to model more regularly and that means blogging more often.  I have all I need to be able to relax and work on a model without spending much at all (see this blog post).  However, in order to fund a layout construction project, I may need to add a part time job eventually, but that's a topic for another post...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Re-kitting a Wabash Box Car

I just posted a new video to YouTube showing the cleaning and "re-kitting" of an HO Scale Wabash Double Sheathed box car.  This is one of the kits I picked up at Puyallup back in November.  I began disassembly and realized that this was going to take alot of work.  I had also filmed that initial disassembly using my smaller camera but I wasn't happy with the resolution.  If I'm going to film and share close-up modeling, I want a higher resolution so that folks can see what's going on.  I'm still new to this video production thing so I know there will be a learning curve, but I hope to produce good quality videos of the kind of content I'd like to see.

Here's the video, embedded:

You may not be able to tell but the cast metal ends are really distorted.  I solved this by building up the castings with styrene then sanding them flat again, but that's another video.  I'm already casting parts for this car using a casting set from Alumilite I purchased last year at Hobby Lobby using a coupon.  Again, that's another video (the casting, not the trip to Hobby Lobby).  And I'll need to scratchbuild doors and door hardware...that's another video too.  Not sure how many parts this will be when all is said and done, but I hope to keep each video under 10 minutes (closer to 5).  No rambling, shaky camera, distracting background chatter from a TV, etc.  Just simple descriptions and straight up modeling.

Thanks for reading, and for watching.  Please share this video with folks you think may find it interesting.  I hope to post follow-up videos every couple weeks or more often during my Sabbatical.  After that, more like once a month as long as there's something worth watching.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Clutter Putter

Do you 'putter around' your train room or garage or workshop?  Let me flesh out that idea a bit.  I believe most of us who claim to just 'putter' are actually doing one of three things: we are either cleaning and straightening, putting away the remnants of previous projects, or just dreaming*.

For me, the value of clear space cannot be overstated.  I need clear space both inside my head and outside in my living space in order to be creative.  I have considered before the times in my life when I was most productive as a modeler, and I had thought that the productivity was the result of living with imposed limitations.  For example, during a move I took a tub of kits, tools and supplies to work on in my temporary quarters until we could settle into a more permanent dwelling.

But I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't as much a factor of the limited projects, but a result of keeping the work space clear.  Life certainly was busy and stressful and there was much to occupy my mind and my time.  Limiting the projects in number and scope may have helped some, but that can't explain the extraordinary output produced at the same time.  I believe the greater factor is this: in a shared, temporary space, I had to put away the project in process after a work session.  Each time I sat down to work it was at a clear space.

You can see the video of my recent workbench cleaning following a project completion, in last month's post.  Here is a picture of a recently de-cluttered space next to that workbench:

Perhaps this looks cluttered to you, but trust me, it is a massive improvement; it looks pretty close to the way I want it to look, and functions well too.  The upside-down Badger Air Brush box lid is a stand-in for a basket to hold remote controls (and chocolate).  I'm not sure I'll keep the little stack of scratch paper in the back, but I do use it from time to time.  Up on deck is a coaster for beverages, a tissue box and a little candle holder my wife made before we met. 

Everything that lives in your space is either a Tool, a Supply, Reference material or a Decoration, or it is a project in process.  I choose to keep limited but meaningful decorations in my space.  For too long I've had way too many knick-knacks, bits and pieces laying around that really didn't mean much.  Now, it must be useful or beautiful in order to take up valuable horizontal space.  That space is valuable because it allows the mind to relax and the creative juices to flow unhindered.

And so to the title of this post - the Clutter Putter.  This little table is the beachhead in my assault on train room clutter (and world domination).  My wife and kids can't mess it up since they're rarely working in this space (next to my workbench).  If it is to remain clutter-free, it is up to me.  So from now on, I am making intentional de-cluttering a part of my puttering routine.  A little time each day puttering in the train room will create clear space.  The goal is less puttering (cleaning and straightening, putting projects away and generally dreaming*) and more modeling.

*A note on dreaming - Yes, dreaming is part of the creative process.  But dreaming alone, without the space to realize those dreams, is futility and leads to frustration.  "I'd love to _____, but first I have to clean up all this junk..."  As George Carlin put it, "Junk is the stuff we get rid of, and stuff is the junk we keep".

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May Mini Post

Just to squeak in a post in May, here's a link to my latest video on Youtube:

If the video or link doesn't work, go to YouTube and search for the Workbench Cleaning video by ocalicreek.

I was inspired by the videos of Jimmy Diresta.  Check out his channel, as well as his videos on the Make channel.  No chatter and useless talk....umm....ummm....  No shaky camera.  Just great content, well edited without being too long. 

The music for my video came free from  Real Joplin piano rolls, played by the man himself.

I hope to continue making videos from time to time, but life often gets in the way when you're trying to have fun modeling!  I am thankful that I have a life to get in the way!  Two great kids, a wonderful wife, terrific parents and in-laws, a career that pays the bills, a place to live and even a garden.  There is much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Serendipitous Tape Tip

I discovered this tip by accident while masking two box cars in preparation to paint the undersides.  I needed to somehow cradle these cars so that they could rest upside down without damaging the vertical brake staff and wheel which rise above the roof line.  However, the tape was enough to provide a stable support for the car and clearance for the brake wheel.

The first car to be masked was a Central Valley 36' car (shown above in the bottom of the photo).  These cars are short in height, so the Frog tape I used was wide (tall) enough to cover the whole side plus extend a few scale feet above the roof.  When I turned the car over, set it on the tape, and realized how well that would work, I masked the second car, a Silver Streak box car, with a full width of Frog tape plus a half width to create enough height to do the same. 

Voila!  Masks that protect the car sides and roof AND serve as stands for painting.  I imagine this would work just as well if you were painting the roof a different color - just extend the tape down the sides below the underbody detail.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pinto Heights

     Okay, so 'heights' isn't exactly the best descriptive word I could use for the little hillside above the tracks, but it'll do for now.  As part of the Railroad Line forum's 'choices' challenge to build something off the shelf, (and my own resolution to finish more projects than I start) I selected one of my un-built structures from my 'digital shelf'.  A couple years ago I bought and downloaded the Clever Models Company House just for this location (the dark gray building with the pinkish add-on in the center-right of the photo above).

     Pinto is a sort-of company town.  The mill isn't in Pinto, but rather a few miles up the Big Tujunga Lumber Company interchange which connects to the Ocali Creek at Pinto.  The Clever Models company house comes with several 'textures' from which to choose; various colors of Insulbrick, or clapboard, different shingles or rolled roofing, and even a variety of brick colors for the foundation.  This means I can make a few slightly different houses, all of the same basic design.  OR, I could just print multiple copies of the textures I like and mass produce one style.  I haven't decided which way I'll go, but I'm leaning toward different colored homes.
     The company houses will also appear on the backdrop.  Another nice thing about paper models, besides the ability to print multiple copies, is that I can reduce them a slight bit and print up a smaller structure to force the perspective.  These smaller copies will be false fronts with minimal detail, built as 3-d flats set right in front of the backdrop.

     But the company houses aren't the only structures in Pinto Heights.  I have also mocked up the Classic Miniatures Queen Anne house (where the foreman lives, on the left in the above photo) and the AHM 'Speedy Andrew's' (aka Ma's Place) as a home, not a business (sorry Mr. Moore).  For a while I tried putting the latter across the way from the former, but it just didn't look right.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  For a while there was no road across the tracks.  Once I nixed the idea of a loading platform in the fork of the siding (where the road now runs near the freight house) then putting in the road was easy.

     Once the road was in place, and I had shifted structures around on blocks for a while, I remembered the old photo of the church at Caples, WV.  Now that prominent corner across from the Queen Anne cottage will have a church - mocked up for now using an older building I had stashed away.  That stone church may end up as a middle background structure in Watson, someday.  Caples church was wood with lovely gothic arched windows.  If I build this structure this year, I'll need to scratchbuild those windows.
     The final 'structure' for Pinto is actually another old photo I found.  It will live where the yellow false-front is standing in at the end of the street.  I spent a little time recently learning how to colorize black & white photos using Gimp, a free photo editing software.  What fun that is!  Now I can adapt just about any structure I find on Shorpy or elsewhere, to use as a backdrop image.  There are a few other structures, cut from magazines or calendars, and even a few of my own pictures, that I will use on the backdrop.
     Hopefully these photos give you, dear reader, an idea of what I have planned for Pinto.  There is one more foreground structure to mock-up, and that will be the subject of a future post.  The current backdrop images are merely stand-ins to give me an idea of what I'll paint there.  I will be detailing the build of the company house on the Railroad Line thread linked above, and who knows when I'll get to any of the other structures.  For now the mock-ups and stand-ins are doing a good job.