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.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Resolutions, and the Home Hobby Shop

This year I resolve to:

1. Finish more projects than I start.
2. Lose 20 lbs by my 40th birthday (May 22)
3. Spend no money on my trains.

The first and the third go together - it is time to build strictly and solely from my HHS, my Home Hobby Shop.  I took a look in my closet of kits and determined I would do what I already suspected I could, that is, build, to completion, many kits without having to purchase a single thing.

Yes, that includes paint and glue.  Couplers and wheel sets.  Detail parts, supplies and tools.  None should be needed to complete many kits 'in stock', and I have these things handy already.  Pictured below is the closet in my train room.  Below the shelf are two white 'Helmer' drawers, full of tools and supplies.  On the shelf is my portable workbench, on which sets the Red Mountain Mine mentioned in a previous post.  Nope, still haven't put on the remaining rafter tails. 

Above the shelf are miscellaneous non-railroad things in need of fixing; a statue that needs gluing back together, etc.  Above that are more drawers of parts and supplies, including some of my son's N-scale in need of repair (mostly couplers).  And above that are the boxes of engines, rolling stock and structures.  And trees.  Two boxes of super trees material. 

Down below next to one of the Helmers is a plastic box containing everything necessary to build a static grass applicator.  Not pictured are all the scenic materials for the layout, and track and turnouts and turnout controls.  Before the end of last year I bought some gold-n-rod rod & tube so I could install more turnout machines, along with the chicken-head knobs for the controls.

Yep, I should be set for this year...and truthfully the next two or three.  But I am only resolving to spend nothing THIS year.  I may or may not write another article for MRH...partly because I STILL haven't heard back about the last one, even though I've contacted them THREE times, but also because I would rather just build without the pressure of having to take super-great photos each step of the way.  The money is not an issue.

There is one exception to this eldest son's N scale layout.  I may need to buy some terminal strips and wire....but that's another post!

Happy New Year, and Happy Model Building!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gilded Age

Here is a box car I've been building.  It has reached the stage that I think is the pinnacle of beauty - detailed but not yet primed, painted, lettered and weathered.  No doubt it will be a beautiful car at that completed stage also, but at this point all the hard work that has gone into building it is still visible.  In a kit like this, that means all the details are evident due to the variety of materials.

I consider older kits like this to be craftsman kits.  A box of wood structural shapes, white metal castings, stamped brass and styrene parts becomes a box car.  I have taken this car a little further than the manufacturer intended by adding a few details beyond what is included with the kit.  I substituted fishing line and Tichy turnbuckles for the wire truss rods and brass crimp-on turnbuckles included. I also added Tichy truss-rod n-b-w 'ends' to each end of the car.  The wire truss rods, incidentally, were pulled in a vise to straighten them, then bent and cut and bent again into the new grab irons for the car sides and ends.

I also added Cal Scale plastic brake levers, styrene supports for the brake rigging, and I used the staple stirrup steps as brake lever supports.  Inside the car I used adhesive caulk to affix a found-item weight.  When I came across that hunk of metal on the side of the road I just knew it would fit inside a car someday...that day has come.  As I took the photos for this posting I realized I still need to add a grab iron on each roof walk end, new stirrup steps on the corners, and possibly a door stop on each side.

This car will become the first Ocali Creek Railway box car, and as such, will be most often seen at the freight houses and team tracks along the line delivering LCL freight.  Not sure I'll get it painted before Xmas.  I may just run it like this for a while and enjoy all the bits and pieces.