Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Gift Put to Use

I was given a Peco Loco Lift for Christmas.  It is a gift I had asked for, and was very happy to receive.  Here it is being used to remove the Mogul from the main line:

Eventually there may be a staging track abutting the railroad here, but for now the Lift works well.  And, once the staging is in place the Loco Lift will likely still be used for the engines and more delicate rolling stock.

For now, its sole job is to hold this locomotive.  When I bought this Mehano 2-6-0 it came without a box.  I need to make one, ideally before I finish the fine detailing. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Last year I found a book in a thrift store that caught my interest; in general as a student of history and specifically as a modeler of the 1920s.  The book is titled "Good Life in Hard Times: San Francisco's '20s and '30s" and is by Jerry Flamm, a native son of the city in the title.  Flamm grew up selling newspapers and later went on to work for the Chronicle as a copyboy and a reporter and staff writer for the Call Bulletin.  It is no wonder, then, that the first chapter of this fine book is titled 'Front Page Days' and recalls the ignominious history of the fierce competition and colorful tales from the major San Francisco newspapers.

Flamm's writing is excellent; his stories, gathered from veterans of the era, colorful and interesting.  Though I model a small town in central Florida, the reliance of the public on the paper for their news transcends the geographic location.  Radio was in its infancy, television was unheard of.  If you needed to know the score or the stock price or the sales in the stores, you looked in the paper.  A small town rag might cost a penny.  In the big city by the bay, two cents or even three would get you the news. 

So inspired by the tales of plucky newsboys on the street corners and brash reporters and photographers, I began to wonder how I might capture some of this spirit in 1:87 scale.  Naturally I thought of figures.  I had recently purchased a set of Preiser figures on eBay and they included a newsboy and a man in a suit reading a paper.  Mine came in a large set of figures from the 1920s, all unpainted, but I don't believe that set is available anymore.  However, the two figures pictured below are still available in the set #12133, "On the Platform, 1900-1925 (am Bahnsteig)" though you'll likely pay as much for the 6 painted figures in that tiny box as I did for the 40+ unpainted figures I found.

Note the stands I made, allowing me to prime the figures then hold them for painting.  The corks are epoxied onto washers, and the figures are stuck there with crafter's stick-on glue dots.  

While I was able to find figures for this side of the equation, the sales and consumption of the news, I have yet to find acceptable figures for the other side, the reporting and photographing of the news.  There are photographers out there but they look more suited for the 1960s at the earliest.  I have seen no reporters wearing caps and holding note pads, but plenty of folks holding microphones standing in front of cameras, both on tripods and shoulders.  It would be nice to get such figures to pose at the scene of an accident or some other event, or as they often would be, waiting outside a police station or courthouse to get the scoop.

There are several more chapters in Flamm's book, and I hope they will provide me with as much inspiration and general background knowledge as this first one has.  Up next is all about radio, and there are subsequent chapters on dining, sports, swimming, and of course the Southern Pacific's ferry operations across the bay, and more.  It is highly likely I'll mention this book again on this blog.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Caption This Photo

This is the Jordan Highway Miniatures Old Farm Wagon.  I'm building it to be placed at the team track in Pine Branch Park, across the street from the station.  Of course, in that setting both horses will be in front of the wagon. 

Anyway, I have thought of a few funny captions for this image, but I'd like to hear your suggestions.  Leave them in the comments below.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Aziz, Light!*

Original two lights, both two the left of this image:

Next, adding the new light directly ahead beyond the railroad:

Finally, the other original light, behind my right shoulder: 

Much better.  This level of light is adequate but still not ideal.  However, it will suffice for moving ahead on scenery.

Now I can truly say, "There are FOUR lights!"**

* Even if you didn't care for the Fifth Element or have never seen it, you only have to watch a few minutes to get to this quote.  I suppose, thanks to YouTube, you can just find that clip if you're really in a hurry.

**No, really, there are FOUR lights.  Okay, eight if you count each tube within the double tube florescent fixture.  The reference is from a Star Trek TNG episode.  Poor Picard.  Though, in his defense, no other person would be sane after enduring just half the stuff he had to go through.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

New-ish Tool

I finally made a tool I'd been planning to make for some time, and sure enough, I wish I had done it sooner.  A few years ago I found some small pieces of driftwood during a trip to the coast.  I brought it home thinking they might make nice tool handles.  I regularly use pins to make dimples for starting holes so the drill doesn't wander.  However, my fingers don't like it after making a few.  So, I simply drilled into the end of the driftwood and glued the pin in place with epoxy.  Now my wife wants one for her leather work!  She'll have to pick out the piece that best fits her hand.  This one works great for me.  At some point I may seal it but for now it works fine as is  Here it is being used to mark the corners for windows on a caboose cupola.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Revisions

Make sure you read that right - it says Revisions, not Resolutions.  I do have a few resolutions but they have more to do with growing our savings and losing pounds, standard fare.  We actually did both in the previous year and have a solid plan for doing so again this year.  I like achievable goals!

Rather than go through a what-I-did and what-I-hope to do for last year and this, respectively, I decided to focus on the Pine Branch Park section of the Ocali Creek Railroad (aka "the layout").  Apart from ballast and the occasional paint and glue, I shouldn't need to purchase anything for the railroad this year.  I intend to begin setting aside my monthly stipend for a rainy-day fund, or, heaven forbid, a DCC system replacement fund, though the MRC system I currently use is still chugging along.  Still, I've had to send it back once already and it would be foolish to think it will last forever.  And, should I ever expand the railroad to the point at which multiple operators becomes desirable, I'll want a second throttle.

With that said, here are the focused goals for the railroad, including a revised plan.

I've moved the Gas Station away from the team track.  This is to give more room for each scene and has the bonus of providing an additional industry.  I can spot a tank car between the gas station and the orange grove.  That section of track really is the "continuous run connection" for when I just want to watch a train run.  During an operating session it can be a spot.

In order to move the gas station, I had to eliminate the residences that were going to reside there.  In that space I have planned a small honey stand.  It will be a tourist attraction of sorts, as the stand will be made from an old horse-drawn streetcar.  It will sit on a small stretch of track, complete with a dummy horse attached.  Folks can have their picture made at the "Strickland Street Car" and buy some "Horse-drawn Honey"  The remnants of the old streetcar line will run down the street, truncated by the tracks which cross it and paved over in spots.  Ocala, Florida, actually used to have a horsecar line in the late 1800s.  I've only seen one blurry image:
This should be a neat little scratchbuilding project.  The name Strickland comes from our old neighbors when we first moved to Ocala in 1980.  They were beekeepers and sold honey from their screened porch.  Interestingly enough, my youngest son is learning about beekeeping through 4H, and we each got protective bee suits for Christmas.

The station is nearly complete and I'm itching to build the Purina Feed Mill.  Along with the mill I'll rebuild the three Laconia Ventilated cars I've collected and a Woodland Scenics Diamond T truck with Purina lettering.  My plan for this railroad has always been to complete each scene fully - that means structures, accompanying rolling stock if applicable, vehicles and figures.  And, each scene should in some way contribute to the story of the railroad with either era specific or location specific details, or both.

But before then I must finish the cabeese I began back in the Spring of 2018.  Look for a post on these early this year, hopefully within a month.  The station scene will likely be next, followed by the Purina scene.  Somewhere in there I'll lay out the streets.  The benchwork still needs trim and painting.  Finally, by the end of 2019 I hope to have all the track painted, detailed and ballasted.   "All the trackwork" sounds like a lot, but keep in mind the overall size of the railroad is 4'x6'.  I could paint, detail, and ballast the track all in a week of evenings.  Relatively reduced time spent on any one task is one reason I limited the scope of this project.

I've also renamed the staging connection to "Main East" and "Main West".  Tony Koester advocates this practice of locating your section of railroad on a larger network by calling staging something more bound to geography.  In my case, the main line heading east runs towards Deland, FL, and the main west heads into town (Ocala) where the railroad's main yard and shops are located.  For operators, that means little right now as those physical connections off-the-table don't go anywhere...yet.  But it does add to the sense of story and place and when I do eventually add staging yards, they won't just be tracks on a tabletop, but representations of destinations.

Finally, a word of thanks to all my readers.  Thanks for following along, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Now We're Rolling!

Ocali Creek Railway 2-6-0 number 145 speeds a train of reefers loaded with Florida citrus toward Northern markets at Christmastime.  Oranges at Christmas have become a tradition for many during this season, thanks to fast, dependable transportation provided by railroads spanning the sunshine state.  The orange and green Shepaug Valley car behind the locomotive is likely headed for Connecticut.  The Ocali Creek is a short line tapping the riches of central Florida.  This train will speed through the tall pine forests to a connection with the Florida East Coast.

Finished the Mogul to a state where I can run it for a while before adding weathering and final details.  In fact, I will likely finish the OCRY cabeese before I weather this locomotive along with the cabeese and some other too-clean rolling stock.  Neither the bell nor whistle cords have been added, and there's no coal in the tender.  That's okay as there are no handrails to pull yourself up into the cab either.  Those are the last details to add.  The railings will go on before I weather, the cords and coal after.

Note how the pure black paint obscures the details in this poor garage light.  HA.  Just kidding.  I hope this photo goes to show that a glossy black paint job looks beautiful and actually highlights the detail, most of which is molded on and not separately applied.  The poor garage light is a basic florescent shop light.  The image was captured with a digital camera set to auto ISO and a close-up macro with no flash.