Friday, June 8, 2018

You Never Do a Project...

...You Only Do the Next Step

Take, for example, this next step.  Pictured are a paint brush, stir stick, paper towel, silver paint, cup of water and two headlight castings.  All I did was paint the inside of the reflector silver.  That's it.

However, before I could get to that step I had to drill out the casting both through the center of the reflector and from below.  This will allow me to place a VERY tiny LED inside the casting which I can do now that the reflector has been painted.

The next step, however, is not to insert the LED, but to test the LEDs with the decoder and resistors to determine how bright I want them to appear.  Then I can insert the front LED and mount it to the boiler.  The rear light will need a bracket to be built before I can place it on the tender, but before I can do that I need to build the tender bunker and prime the tender to check the joints, etc. 

All these 'next steps' add up to a completed project - a beautiful locomotive I'm pleased to operate...but that means I need a layout to run it on, and rolling stock to pull, and industries to switch, etc.  There are many more next steps to come!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fallburgh on the Back Porch

 My morning beverage, an Americano with cream

This is the time of year when the evenings and the mornings are beautiful, even if the midday heat is just a bit too much.  Our Spring was wet enough and warm enough for mosquitoes, but that doesn't deter me.  California skeeters seem to be slower and less aggressive than the quick little biters I grew up with in Florida.  Or maybe I'm just not as sweet as I used to be.  ha.

 My morning companion, Maggie

Anyway, I used the lovely weather as an opportunity to advance the progress on the Fallburgh Station kit.  I decided to build an interior.  This meant diverging from the instructions and using 1/32" plywood as full-wall bracing instead of square strip stock in the corners.  I will also be including a floor and ceiling that will serve as stiffeners to keep the walls from bowing, hopefully.  The coup de grace will be a strip of specialty stock I found in my pile of dollhouse wood that I will use as bracing disguised as crown molding.

 Walls coming together!

There will be an office, a waiting room and a baggage room on the first floor, along with an un-modeled stairwell to an un-modeled second floor.  That space will serve as a wiring conduit to run to LED lights in the ceiling.  No indoor plumbing, but electric lights!  I haven't decided how far I want to take the detailing inside, but there will be rudimentary furniture and some figures.

This kit has now passed what I am calling, the "structure kit Rubicon".  That is, the point of no return beyond which the kit will not go back in the box.  Most rolling stock will go back in the box it came in after you build it.  Most craftsman kit structures will not.  Alia Iacta Est. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Craft Nite at Grace - Fallburgh

This is the first post in a sometimes series; probably monthly.  That's because once a month there's a craft night at my church, Grace Lutheran, Ukiah.  At my previous congregation in Washington there was a similar craft night where each person brings whatever they're working on, be it quilting or knitting or model building or toll painting, etc. and spends a few hours working and chatting and snacking.  It is a fellowship event with a craft theme.

I brought Fallburgh Station by Sequoia Models, along with my portable workbench and a handful of tools.  I spent about an hour cleaning castings with an Xacto blade and file.  Before I could get to the next step of trimming battens the boys got antsy and I took them home.  An hour entertaining themselves with paper crafts and snacks was about their limit.  Later in the week I pulled out the kit onto the back porch when the weather was lovely and did the batten trimming.  This is a photo in-process:

This is a great kit and I look forward to continuing to work on it whether on craft night or in between, so posts about the station will be sporadic.  Work continues on the Mogul, and I'll update that thread soon.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Put a Smile on Your Face

I had originally thought I might replace the boiler front, or smokebox door.  However, my desire to use as many original parts as possible won the day and I began to work on the factory installed part.  I carefully trimmed away the cast wiring conduit for the former headlight.  A paper punch provided the right diameter styrene circle to fill the opening left by the headlight.  I had a brass number plate casting in my parts box. 

Finally, I used a brass wire and three brass stanchions to make the handrail.  That solved a problem I wasn't sure how to deal with, at first.  The face had three "dimples".  They looked like injector pin marks from the casting process, but it made no sense that they'd be on that side of the casting.  Usually such things are designed to be hidden on the back or inside surface.  I realized they were most likely spots where, on a different model using the same face, a trio of stanchions would be used for a handrail.  So, that's what I did.  Problem solved.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tender Cuts

I didn't like the long look of the tender as it was, so I decided to chop out a section and shorten the length.  I used the decals that would grace the sides as a gauge of just how much I could cut and still fit "OCALI CREEK".  With this measurement, I determined I could remove about an inch.

Using a hobby saw, I made the cuts as shown below:

After checking with a square, sanding, checking, more sanding, checking again, and still more sanding, I was able to arrive at mostly square and straight cut ends which mated well.

I bonded the joint with Testors liquid cement for plastic and braced it with the plastic modeler's secret scrap; a bit of bread clip.  The tender floor and underframe was secured with the same cement, but braced with small styrene strips along the length.

While I don't have much planned for the locomotive itself apart from a few minor detail changes, the tender modifications are quite extensive.  It will need pads in the shell for screws to attach it to the frame, a soldering board on which the decoder and all the wiring come together, plus details, some of which will be scratchbuilt.  This is shaping up to be a fine project.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Green Steam II

What happens when you strip the Southern Green paint off an IHC Mogul?  You find green plastic underneath that green paint!

Notice the silver smokebox and firebox paint didn't come off completely.  I may have been able to get more to release had I soaked it longer.  What you see here is the result of a couple hours in 91% rubbing alcohol.  I finished removing the silver with a scraper.  The only other green plastic is the cylinders and saddle, not shown here.  The rest - basically the frame - is molded in black plastic, and was unpainted.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Green Steam

I had big plans for my Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0.  Ever since I had purchased it, it was going to be my branch line steamer, hauling a classic mixed train.  But that's the fantasy...the reality is, it never worked right.  I should have exchanged it right after I got it, back when Bachmann was still making it.  Instead, it sat in its box for years before I decided to have a crack at fixing it.  The newer model they've released apparently doesn't have the flaws mine has, though it does not have all the beautiful, separately applied details. 

So when it didn't work I turned to a second option.  A friend had given to me three steamers; vintage models by Aristo-Craft back when they made HO.  These were "New One" models from Japan, thirty years older than the Spectrum engine.  I was disappointed but not surprised when the pretty little 2-8-0 had the same flaw: the drivers were pressed onto the geared axle slightly less than perpendicular.  That means the engine will have a lope; a wobble; a hitch in its getalong.

With both of these options off the table (and considerable time spent fiddling with them to try and make them better) I calmly decided I was going to do the right thing and purchase a reliable, dependable locomotive.  I had watched throughout the Christmas season as a USRA 2-8-2 chugged around the tree hauling a string of hoppers.  This stalwart steamer was made in Slovenia by Mehano for IHC. 

I got on eBay and found that apparently I wasn't the only person looking for great performance at a reasonable price.  But after a while I was able to land a deal on a 2-6-0, an ideal locomotive for hauling a freight or mixed train down a branch.  Sure, the detail wasn't as nice as my Bachmann Spectrum, but it runs (well!) and is a great platform for detailing.  If John Pryke considered it worthy of conversion into a New Haven K-1-B Mogul*, I figured I'd be able to do something with this little green steamer.

Upcoming blog posts will be progress updates on this project.

*see Model Railroader, August 2008, pg. 66