Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Details I Didn't Think I'd Do

Here are two things I did to the 2-6-0 that I hadn't planned on doing.  The first is a stand, made simply from two bent pieces of flat brass strip, for the rear light on the tender.

Shown above are the finished light, the little block of plastic I was going to use initially, and a third 'leg' I bent.  I bent enough legs to get two that matched in height.  In this image the LED is not in the casting.  It has since been added and the wires are run down behind one of the legs.

The second unplanned detail is less detail and more functional addition.  Note the bits of metal in this image.
While I chose to not replace the cast-on power reverse or air compressor assembly, I did fill-in the back side of the air tanks.  Since I removed some weight from inside the boiler to make room for wiring, I decided to replace a little with these bits.  I had these cut-offs from another steam project in which I had removed the cast metal clunky air tanks and replaced them with scratchbuilt parts.  The metal is ZAMAC, most likely, so it is heavy.  Though it is not that visible, it adds a tiny bit of weight and that helps the overall performance of this locomotive.

As of this post, this engine is fully detailed and ready for paint.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Who's That Girl?

This post is a bit of a diversion from the most recent modeling efforts.  Readers of a certain age, upon reading the title to this post, will be immediately struck with an ear worm, courtesy of Madonna.  For this, I am truly sorry.  However, I needed to use this title as it is the central question of this post. 

Over the summer the boys and I spent time "off screens" each morning from breakfast to lunch.  I accomplished a great deal, including some fun tasks I had been postponing.  One such joy was working a puzzle I had purchased at Disneyland a few years back.  Here is an image of the completed puzzle:

Pay attention to the colors used; sky blue, various reds and browns and other southwestern U.S. earth tones.  These are the predominant background colors.  What interests me are the bold accent colors; red, gold and green.  (Again, my apologies if you just picked up a different 80's song on the brain).  Two greens are used - a lighter bright green on the banner behind the BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD lettering, and a darker, forest green on both the locomotive cab and the Disneyland plaque at the bottom of the frame.

There's also a little green on the sparse foliage, but there's one other place that dark forest green is used.  Here, take a closer look and see if you can spot it:

This is a BIG high-quality image, so right-click and open it in a new tab or window if you need to.  When you work a puzzle, you notice things you might not have in a casual glance at an image.  I tune my eye to a certain color and gather pieces with that color, knowing that they'll likely fit together somehow in a group.  I knew the Disneyland emblem and locomotive cab were the same color and the shapes of each were different enough I could easily separate them into groups.  But the girl...

Now we can return to that initial question, "Who's that girl?"  I believe that she is someone important, probably to the artist who created this poster.  Maybe a wife or daughter or girlfriend, or even the artist herself.  Why do I believe this?  A few reasons.  First, the aforementioned color.  She's wearing the same color as the two other powerful and important elements in the piece - the locomotive and the park emblem.  All the other guests on the train are wearing shades of red or brown and even sky blue - all background colors.

Secondly, she's positioned just above the EXACT center of the image:

I added the white lines in Gimp to a borrowed image of the attraction poster to illustrate this.  You can also follow the sight lines of the track coming from the lower right quadrant towards the center through the locomotive and they point directly at her.  In an image full of off-axis and frame-busting elements, she is one of the most "forward", just behind the locomotive and track.

Finally, she is the ONLY person in the image looking directly at the viewer.  Everyone else is seated in their ride vehicles facing the direction of travel while her shoulders and face are turned toward the viewer and her eyes are looking at you.

While she may be someone important, she is not the focus of the poster overall.  Even on the full-sized poster at Disneyland park, she's only a couple inches high at most.  She, along with all the other guests on the train, are dwarfed by the imposing typeface and font size of the lettering.  The ominous clouds, towering peak and rushing locomotive all spell out the attraction's name - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  And where do you find it?  Why, Frontierland, of course.  Even the planks on which you are encouraged to "climb aboard 'n hang on" are larger.

But as I mentioned earlier, working a puzzle affords the opportunity to observe the distinct elements of an image and study the artistry behind the work.  Big Thunder is one of my favorite attractions at Disneyland and I love working puzzles, so this was all joy to work this one.  I rarely return to a puzzle after working it, but I may have to on this one in order to get it mounted and framed...or maybe I'll just work it again, and perhaps I'll notice something...or someone...else next time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Steam Status

Here is where the 2-6-0 stands at present:

I have been occasionally sanding the joint on the tender sides with a very tiny piece of very fine sandpaper glued to a stick, in order to avoid sanding away the rivets.  However, I have sanded away all the rivets on the rear of the tender.  I did this when I removed the cast-on ladder.  I will replace the rivets with Micro Mark rivet decals similar to the double rows that were there, and the ladder with a brass casting from Wiseman.  Also on the tender I will be adding a platform for the back-up light.

All that remains on the locomotive itself is to add a pair of handrail stanchions just in front of the cab wall, and a bit of fake wiring conduit to replace where I shaved some off while removing another detail.  After that it is a matter of determining what value resistor to use for the LED's and then wiring them in place.

After these final details are complete I can paint and letter the engine.  We are still having warm, dry afternoons here so I want to get it painted before the temperature drops much and the air gets moist.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Back on Station

Work has resumed on the Fallburgh Station kit.  A while back I made interior wainscoting and chair rail/trim using Gimp.  The donor image was a door I found online.  I liked the classic lines of the door and the color.  Here are the doors, wainscoting and trim printed on plain paper:

Here are the doors in the office:

And here's the other side of the office as seen from the street-side doors:

I've also given the exterior walls a few light coats of a basic acrylic black wash to enhance the board and batten detail and tone down the stark white color.  The green trim and windows also received a highlight coat of Seminole Green, just a shade lighter and a bit more yellow than the Forest Green I used as the primary trim color.  This is to give them a little depth and represent sunlight.

Since these images were taken I've added all the wainscoting and some of the chair rail.  I left them separate in order to allow for any discrepancy in height from the floor to the bottom of the windows.  However, it has been a real pain to get the chair rail glued in without grunting and grumbling.  Even so, the effect is really nice. 

I have also built a desk out of balsa for the office, and have a few other pieces of furniture along with accessories like a clock and a phone to go in.  Some of these are castings, some printed and some scratchbuilt.  I also have a station master, courtesy of Model Power, that will eventually take up residence in the office.

Much more to do, but it's great fun and I'll share more as it happens.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Miniature Benchwork

In preparation for building the framework for my next layout, the Pine Branch Park, I decided to try something I'd read about before; building a model of the model.  I enlarged my plan to a scale of 1/8 inch equals 1 inch, or 1-1/2 inch equals a foot.  This allowed me to cut thin strips to represent 1 inch wide material that I could handle without much trouble.  The overall size of the model at this scale works out to 6 inches by 9 inches, keeping the whole thing within a regular sheet of card stock.

Here's what I came up with:

Glamorous, ain't it?  Okay, so maybe it won't win any awards but it has served a very important function.  It showed me a few pitfalls and mistakes I might have made - these are easier to correct and far cheaper in card stock than plywood.  For instance, I want 1 inch flanges on the outer sides and 2 inch flanges on the inner members.  It was also fun to see flat sheets of card become a surprisingly strong framework.  The card stock is glued with Titebond II wood glue.

I will be using 1/4 inch plywood for the actual framework as well as the top.  I hope that by using girder construction for the frame I can avoid the eventual warping that comes from dimensional lumber exposed to temperature and moisture changes, as well as produce a light and strong frame that can be easily handled.  While I won't be moving this railroad as much as I would a portable module, I will be moving it eventually and early in the construction phase may be tipping it on its side to do wiring and turnout control work from the underside.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pine Branch Park

After some consideration, I've decided to name my next model railroad the "Pine Branch Park".  This is a play on words and a nod to the region and specific context I'll be modeling.  "Pine Branch" refers to the little creek running through the area and across a corner of the modeled scene while conjuring images of a literal bough or limb of a pine tree.  Yes, a Florida railroad perhaps more commonly calls to mind palms instead, but for central Florida, the pine was the more lucrative tree.  Several will be modeled on this section of the line.

"Park" refers to the industrial park.  While a small street scene with shops and residences will be modeled, the real reason for the railroad is the industrial complex.  As I've pored over period photos, the ones grabbing my interest are scenes of industry and residential areas, more than the countryside and open wilderness.  I hope to expand this railroad into those areas eventually, but for now the city, or rather, this aspect of the city will dominate the scene.  Here's one such photo that lived on my desktop for a while:

Ocala Manufacturing Company - Ocala, Florida. 192-. Black & white photograph, 4 x 5 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <>, accessed 5 August 2018.  Right-click and open in a new tab for a much larger view.
 I've also had good input from folks over on the Railroad-Line forum into the track plan.  Here is the latest incarnation.  Note the yellow highlighted line, signifying the main track.  At some point I'd like to continue this track to another area in order to run through trains.  For now, however, the area modeled is self contained and can be run simply as a loop of track or switched in a more formalized operating scheme.

Finally, a word on how I plan to proceed.  I remember fondly the series "Especially for Beginners" in Model Railroader magazine, running from January 1991 through December 1992.  That's a full two years dedicated, essentially, to one model railroad dubbed the Cripple Creek Central.  In my opinion it was not the best name choice as I can't see the model railroad resembling either well-known Cripple Creek, i.e. Colorado or Virginia.  At least it was closer to the western example scenically, but I digress.

Looking back at this series years later, I have come to realize what is perhaps unique about the approach taken to building this railroad.  I imagine Jim Kelly had an idea in mind as to what direction the build would take and how the railroad would progress, but that wasn't clear up front.  Seems like MR project layouts are presented, most often, after they've been completed.  The step-by-step articles that follow are retrospectives on what was done and how. 

In the case of the Cripple Creek Central there seems to be an organic, 'let's see where this leads' approach.  Track was 'laid', but not fastened down so that changes could be made later.  Buildings were purchased because the author liked the way they looked, almost like the average person would do when perusing their local hobby shop.  Scenes were built then later modified.  The control method was changed half-way through the series.  While the general direction remained coherent, the details were more fluid and it almost seemed as if you got a glimpse inside the mind of the creators (there were multiple contributing authors!) as they each worked on the project.

This seems very different than the more dominant approach put forward by the conventional school of planning, often attributed to John Armstrong.  In this method the track plan is made to fit the space and is driven most often by the goal of getting in as much operation as possible.  That approach, combined with the emphasis on prototype modeling, has been a strong current in the hobby for a long time, certainly since the days of the great freelancers like John Allen and W. Allen McClelland or the artists like Malcolm Furlow and Dave Methlie. 

My approach to building this railroad is, as I see it, somewhere in between.  I want some operations so I've planned those in.  I think it is best to do that up front when you have specific structures you want to include such as the Purina Mill and Union Ice industries shown on the plan.  But I've also left room for other elements to change.  Currently I'm considering a coal dealer for the unnamed Industry A.  That would fit well next to the Ice plant, but we'll see what I feel like doing when I get to that stage in the construction.

The primary reason I mention the Cripple Creek Central, however, is the measured monthly approach they took to build this model railroad over the course of two years.  The series was so comprehensive, including everything from soup to nuts, that Kalmbach made it into a book.  I would like to build and complete - yes, complete - this model railroad in a couple years.  I don't buy the tired trope, "a model railroad is never finished".  While the progressive steps I take in building the Pine Branch Park won't exactly parallel the stages of construction seen in the CCC series, I will aim for monthly installments that show visible progress on the construction of the railroad with a varying focus for each.

Naturally benchwork and trackwork comes first, but soon after I will be installing a station and some streets.  I may devote a month to the Purina Mill, but also to the Woodland Scenics grain truck and the Purina ventilated box cars (former reefers) I have to upgrade and rebuild.  Static grass wasn't really a thing in 1991, but I have all the parts to build a static grass applicator so that'll feature one month along with putting down some ground cover. 

But beyond a few vague ideas, I'm going to let the build take me where it will.  Adam Savage talks about the way a project actually leads you as you build it and suddenly new directions appear which you wouldn't have seen before you began.  I know this to be true and it is an exciting aspect of any long-term project.  I hope you'll journey along with me as I build the Pine Branch Park Model Railroad.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

White Walls, Green Trim

Airbrushed Delta Ceramcoat Acrylics, thinned with windshield wiper fluid.
White and Forest Green

Here's a tip; paint in the garage in the morning when it's cool, then let it dry and cure throughout the day when it's pushing 100 out there.  I started painting the corner trim and rafter tails, but decided to brush paint those.  The castings were primed with rattle can gray primer whereas the wood was not.