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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What's the Intent?

One of the blogs I read from time to time is Mike Cougill's over at OST Publications.  One of his thoughtful musings published just a few hours ago as of this writing is here:

In it, he asks the question which titles his post.  I mirrored it as the title of this post to start something.  I'm hoping that any other bloggers that read this site from time to time will take up the gauntlet and write their own "What's the Intent" post to answer the question for themselves.  (Jim?  Luke?)  Mike's focus lately has been on modeling cameo scenes as a way of advancing ideas about the artistry of the craft of model railroading.

For me, I can sum it all up in one photo and a short description:


McDonald, Dale M., 1949-2007. World of Motion attraction in EPCOT Center at the Walt Disney World Resort - Orlando, Florida. 1983. Color slide, . State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. <>, accessed 18 December 2018.

This rather poor image depicts what has been called the "World's First Traffic Jam".  It's a show scene in the now-extinct World of Motion pavilion at EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida.  This ride-through attraction showed guests a history of transportation through humorous scenes depicting advances in our mobility, and presenting future transportation possibilities.  (I recommend searching out the attraction on Youtube, as there are several decent ride-through videos you can view.  An image search for this attraction may also turn up a great shot of this scene under construction, with the study model built by Imagineers in the foreground.)

No, I'm not replicating this attraction in my garage, but taking cues from Disney's original mission for EPCOT - to Inspire, Educate and Entertain.  This attraction did that and more.  My railroad will do the same but with a much narrower focus.  It will show scenes typical of the 1920s in central Florida.  There will be humorous scenes, at least one of which will be lifted almost directly from the World of Motion.  Distinctive elements like a paper boy on the corner hawking the daily or the remnants of the horse drawn streetcar track will educate and invite any viewers to ask questions.  Creating believable, realistic scenes will also drive me further into enjoyable research.

The trains themselves will be moving elements within a three dimensional artwork, literally framed.  They will "operate" in traditional model railroad fashion, but the operational function serves the purpose of telling the story.  That story is the specific history of the land boom in 1920's Florida and how the railroads played their part in that story.

Personally, my intent is to create a slice of a world that could have been, into which I can visit and observe and interact.  I can admire this creation and relax as a train trundles through this miniature world, or I can take on the role of conductor, planning the moves to get the pickups picked up and setouts set out, then get back home in time for that new radio program.  Maybe I'll pick up the extra from the kid on the corner.  I hear Lindberg is going to try for a trans-Atlantic flight.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mogul Update

I have been making steady progress on the IHC 2-6-0 rebuild, reaching the painting and decal stage.  Now all that's left is to wire the LEDs.  The headlight will be wired to two connector pins and the resistors will be wired in the tender, along with the rear light.  The LEDs are prewired nano LEDs from Evan Designs, set into holes drilled into cast brass light housings.

Paint is all acrylic except for the brass bits.  The graphite is a craft paint called 'tin' and the red is called 'lipstick'.  The black is BLACK - not gray, or weathered black, or black warmed with red and softened with white a la John Allen, but BLACK.  I've never been a fan of painting a locomotive any color other than what it was or is in real life.  Funnily enough, I freelance.  Still, black is black.

I got a bit of an orange peel finish on the cab roof, due to the gloss varnish not going on thick enough.  I'm not happy with the way the gloss behaved - some of the paint buckled and wrinkled, but it wasn't in a place where it will be seen.  Overall the finish is fine, but I am going to look into the Tamiya varnishes as I've heard great things about them.

Once the LEDs are wired I will reassemble the loco and add final touches like the crew, coal load and bell and whistle cords.  I have cleaned paint from the tender trucks but will run the engine on DC to turn the drivers.  Weathering is something that'll happen down the road, most likely.

BTW - my most recent post on "What Vintage" has far and away surpassed any other post I've made on this blog.  Welcome to all the new readers who came by for that post.  Stick around and check out some of the other posts and feel free to comment!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

What Vintage?

     A while back I experienced the sublime joy and pleasant challenge that comes from building a craftsman kit. This was no ordinary kit – it was an HO scale model of an HO scale model – a 'tribute' kit to a box car skillfully built and whimsically lettered by John Allen of Gorre & Daphetid fame. Not only that, but this car is a throwback to earlier kit construction methods; it was made primarily of paper.
     Though the car ends, sides, roof and even the inner structure are made of paper, they were laser cut and printed. The underframe is cast resin, and details (the ones that weren't paper) are from Tichy and Grandt Line. That means full underbody detail with all the fiddly bits. Couplers? Kadee scale size, naturally. Trucks? Tichy arch bar.
     And another thing – this kit is now out of production and the manufacturer, sadly, out of business. The car I built is a 'Superior Detritus' box car offered by Full Circle Models. John Allen's original was a Central Valley box car kit. My kit was lettered (and weathered!) by computer. John's was lettered by hand.  Right-click and open this image in a new window for a REALLY big version:
     All this prompted me to ask, “Just what is 'vintage' anymore”? For example, is this piece of rolling stock, 'vintage'? If you define vintage as 'old', then the answer is no. After all, the kit is only a few years old. But if you didn't know how old it was, would it have that 'vintage' look? How does a model railroader define 'vintage'?
     Webster's listing for the word vintage includes three relevant definitions:
  1. a collection of contemporaneous and similar persons or things
  2. a period of origin or manufacture
  3. length of existence 
     By one of these definitions you could say a boxcar kit produced in 2014 is 2014 vintage, like the model year on an automobile. This definition works for my detritus car too – it is a 2010 vintage kit.  But my car also fits another of Webster's definitions; the model represents a car built in the late 1800's. In that sense the period of origin or manufacture is not defined by the actual age of the model, but the perceived age of the car the model represents. So in this sense it is an 1890s vintage car.
     Even so, isn't this really dodging the question or escaping on a technicality? I get the feeling that 'vintage', to many modelers, represents that 'golden' era of American-made craftsman kits. You know, the ones that came with a tube of glue bearing the same name as the kit box, or similar boxes of wood and metal parts with printed car sides or decals to apply. Couplers? Take your pick – after all, you had to supply them. Trucks? If you were lucky they 'snapped' onto the bolster. These were kits from the 'vintage' era of model railroading, surely.
     I love those kits, (even though I am 1975 vintage, myself), and the Detritus car almost fits this definition also, doesn't it? It is no 'shake the box' kit. Though laser cut, it required a great deal of patience, time and craftsmanship to assemble. It is in fact, a model of a model built in that 'vintage' era. So my car is a 2010 vintage kit, representing a late 1800's vintage box car, based on a 1950's vintage model, built using a mix of 'vintage' and modern techniques. Whew! I'd say it's vintage all around, wouldn't you?

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.